Norochcholai transmission line to Anuradhapura on hold due to fishers’ protests – UNP

by Zacki Jabbar

Fishers’ protests have prevented the erection of pylons in the Puttalam lagoon to transmit electricity from the Norchcholai Coal Power Plant (NCPP)to Anuradhapura being put on hold.

R. Yograjan MP, one of the ten UNP parliamentarians who undertook a fact finding mission of the NCPP recently told The Island yesterday that lack of proper planning had stood in the way of the construction of transmission lines to Anuradhapura over the Puttalam lagoon, as the fisherfolk raised environmental concerns.

Six pylons would have to be erected in the lagoon if the power was to be delivered to Anuradhapura but the project had been put on hold due to protests by the fishing community, he noted.

The MP said that the NCPP stalled periodically due to problems with the condenser, but the authorities had obtained similar units for the Phases Two and Three of the project as well.

Officials of the NCPP and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) claimed that it took four years for the performance of power projects under what they termed the ‘Bath Tub Curve’ to reach its peak. The curve was on a downward spiral and had not yet entered the ascendancy stage even though the project was commissioned on March 22, 2011. The condenser had only a two-year warranty, he pointed out, calling on the Power and Energy Ministry to explain why it had entered into such an unfavourable agreement with China Machinery and Engineering Corporation (CMEC), which had built the NCPP.

The authorities by permitting the purchase of the identical condensers for the second and third stages of the plant had compounded the existing problems which had led to the country losing 150 GW hours of power in the last five months alone, Yogarajan observed.

The officials of the NCPP and the CEB claimed that the builder of the project, CMEC, had agreed to replace the defective first phase condenser with a new one as a measure of goodwill even though the two year warranty period had expired on March 22, 2013, but a Chinese Engineer who was present at the time of their visit to the Plant had interjected saying that the condenser had been repaired and it was working well, the MP noted, adding that the Chinese engineer had not committed himself to extending the warranty as a measure of goodwill.

The MP observed that the NCPP’s Availability Factor was only 70 percent while the international standards required it to be 90 percent and thus it could be seen that the best technology had not been obtained.

Despite frequent breakdowns since the commissioning of the project the authorities had not been able to ascertain the exact causes, MP Yogarajan said. "They speculate that it could be sand or the shells in the sea water used to cool the plant. Urgent remedial action is required since the third phase of the project is to be commissioned in October."

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