"We hope to sign the final agreements within a month or two. We hope to begin construction by the end of 2012 and issue tenders to buy equipment."
The coal plant will be a 50/50 joint venture with CEB and NTPC. Each partner will contribute75 million US dollars in equity for the 500 million dollar plant in Sampur, in Sri Lanka's north eastern port city of Trincomalee.
Related facilities of a jetty to unload coal and infrastructure to take off power are expected cost another 200 million US dollars, officials said in September 2011 when a shareholder agreement was signed.
At the time Indian officials said they planned reach financial closure in two months. India is giving a 200 million US dollar soft loan to Sri Lanka for the power project. CEB is cash-strapped and running heavy losses.
Initial cabinet approval for the joint venture was given as far back as in March 2006, when Sri Lanka's East coast was still a war zone in a 30-year war which ended in May 2009. Then there were delays over site selection.There have been concerns that due to delays the plant will not be able to be up and running by 2017.
Tilak Siyambalapitiya, a power sector analyst and former generation planner at CEB has been warning about the delay in the Trinco coal plant, which is expected supply 3,200 GigaWatt hours (millions of units) of energy or 19 percent of the projected annual demand then.
"To be ready by 2017, construction should begin in 2013, to allow the 48 month construction schedule," he said in an analysis in Sri Lanka's The Island newspaper on Thursday.
In Trincomalee cannot be built he suggested that a plant be built in Hambantota. Hambantota was one of the original locations proposed for a coal plant.
Wijayapala however said the plants will be ready by late 2016 or early 2017 with final agreements to be signed in the next two months.
Sri Lanka's current high dependency on liquid fuel was due to delays in coal plants which were planned for the early 1990s. Politicians, religious leaders and environmental organizers helped delay the projects.
Sri Lanka's current President Mahinda Rajapaksa however singed up Chinese turnkey project in Puttalam which is now up and running.
The first 300 MegaWatt stage is now giving 6GWh or energy a day, which is about 19 percent of the current daily 32GWh hour demand.
Power minister Champika Ranawaka says the second stage of Puttalam project will be complete in August 2013 and the final 300MW stage by end 2013.
He said if coal plants were completed as they were originally planned most of the troubles in the power sector would not exist.
"After August 2013, and by 2014 and 2015 the wounds that has been in the system from 1990s will be cured," he said.