Power sector: Dallas hints at possible relief to consumers


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dallas Alahapperuma on Wednesday (Aug 13) said that those who had been critical of the government’s failure to meet the growing demand for power had done absolutely nothing to address the issue.

Addressing the media at SLFP headquarters at T. B. Jayah Mawatha, Maradana, Minister Alahapperuma said that there hadn’t been a concrete plan of action until President Mahinda Rajapaksa adopted a different approach and new policy. Alahapperuma, who is also the SLFP treasurer, said that the Chinese built a coal-fired power plant complex at Norochcholai in accordance with the new policy.

"Chinese President Xi Jinping will be here to commission the latest phase of the Norochcholai plant. It’ll make available an additional 300 megawatts," Alahapperuma said, adding that Norochcholai would strengthen government efforts to generate electricity at affordable rates.

Alahapperuma said some people had conveniently forgotten how successive governments met demand for electricity especially during drought. "They obtained power from private sector at staggering unit rates. Then they implemented long power cuts. During the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure, the then government even adjusted the time as a remedy!"

Minister Alahapperuma quoted President Rajapaksa as having said that he wanted to provide relief to electricity consumers once the latest phase of Norochcholai was operational.

A smiling Alahapperuma rejected accusations pertaining to irrigation as well as power sector made by Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front (NFF). The minister said that those allegations had to be rejected though they were made by what he called a friendly party.

Alahapperuma queried whether the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe tenure as the Premier had built at least a fish tank.

Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena said that the SLFP-led UPFA government wasn’t perfect. In fact, there wasn’t a perfect or totally ‘bad’ government. Although people living in drought hit areas could launch protests demanding water or find fault with the government for not providing adequate water to meet their needs, they wouldn’t want to change the government at the next national election, the minister said. The people had also realised that there was no one to succeed President Rajapaksa or a government that could replace the UPFA, the minister claimed.

Commenting on UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP’s challenge, Minister Abeygunawardena said that the SLFP-led alliance was ready to face an election at any level any time. The minister said that as the UPFA had polled nearly 2 million more votes than the Opposition at Provincial Council polls in Central, Wayamba, Southern and Western Provinces it was nothing but a joke for the UNP to challenge the UPFA at a national level poll.

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