Sri Lanka committee to look in to Norochcholai environmental issues

Sep 21, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Public Utilities Commission (PUCSL) has appointed a 7 member committee to look at the environmental damage allegations that have been leveled against the Norochcholai power station.

“We have received several complaints about this so we appointed a committee that is qualified to look into this matter,” Damitha Kumarasinghe, director general, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) told Lanka Business Online.

“However this kind of report will take some time, I was told. There are a lot of checks that need to be done.”

The committee comprises Prof Devaka Weerakoon (University of Colombo), Prof. Ajith De Alwis (University of Moratuwa), Prof Ruchira Cumaranatunga (University of Ruhuna), Prof K R Ranjith Mahanama (University of Colombo), Dr Mahesh Jayaweer (University of Moratuwa), Dr Jagath Manatunge (University of Moratuwa) and Dr Kamal Ranatunga, (University of Moratuwa)

The concerned areas explored by the committee would be terrestrial science, air quality, fisheries and aquaculture, overall engineering aspects, water quality and marine ecology.

Recently there were media reports that the renewal of the Environmental Protection License (EPL) for the Lak Vijaya Power Plant in Norochcholai for this year has been delayed following the Central Environment Authority (CEA) taking over the assessments from the North Western Environment Protection Authority due to environmental concerns.

There have been questions over the environmental impact of the plant which has not been appropriately managed or addressed including the spread of dry ash to nearby villages and plantations and the spillage of coal which has resulted in the loss of livelihood for fisher folk in the area.

According to the National Environment Acts No 56 of 1988 and No 53 of 2000 obtaining the Environmental Protection License (EPL) from the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) is mandatory for the power generation sector.

Along with the EPL, the Norochcholai plant should also obtain the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) from the NWPE for the coal-fired power plant since it is located in North Western Provincial Council area.

Suren Batagoda, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and renewable energy told us the Environmental Protection License (EPL) for the plant was renewed recently.

A renewal of the EPL is considered as an indication that the plant is in line with the prevailing environmental regulations.