by Camelia Nathaniel
The Kilinochchi grid substation was opened by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last morning (25), connecting the Northern Peninsula to the national grid, after a lapse of 25 years.
Constructed at a cost of Rs. 3200 million, the project was funded through a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) grant, at concessionary interest rates.
The power supply network to the Northern Peninsula was completely destroyed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), three days after the commencement of the Indian Army’s ‘Pawan’ offensive, following the signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord in 6 October 1987. Since then the North has been disconnected from the national grid.
According to a spokesman for the Ministry of Power and Energy, re-connecting the North to the national grid required the construction of 238 power transmission towers in rugged terrain.
The second stage of the project, which is the establishment of the 132 kW high tension transmission power line from Kilinochchi to Chunnakkam, is expected to be completed by mid-2013. In addition, another grid substation will also to be built in Chunnakkam.
According to the Minister of Power and Energy, Patali Champika Ranawaka, the level of electrification, which stood at 40% in the Jaffna Peninsula, has now reached 95%.
With the aim of providing electricity to the rest of the people in the region, the Ceylon Electricity Board is to also build a thermal power plant in Jaffna.
Minister Ranawaka pointed out that construction work on the 24 mW heavy fuel thermal power plant is due to commence in five months.
“Once the thermal power plant becomes operational, the two private power plants Agrico and Northern Power, which are currently in operation, will be removed from the national grid. We can then reduce the current losses of Rs. 2800 million per year to around Rs. 1500 million per year,” he said, pointed out that in future, power stations will be built with a capacity of around 400 kW.
Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, Douglas Devananda, Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa, and Chairman, CEB, Professor Wimaladharma Abeywickrema, also attended the opening ceremony.