By Namini Wijedasa
Power and Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake has ordered the Ministry Secretary and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to appoint 27 of his personal nominees as “project coordinators” for a spate of power plants, including some which are not yet in operation.
In a letter to Ministry Secretary B.M.S. Batagoda and CEB General Manager S.D.W. Gunawardana, the minister has said, “please initiate necessary action to expedite the process of appointing project coordinators, in view of prevailing security situation of the country”.
It is not explained how nearly 30 new project coordinators could help the prevailing security situation. Their salaries are likely to be supported by the CEB.
Project coordinators usually work under a project manager to help ensure tasks are completed on time and within budget. Some of the initiatives for which nominees have been selected by the minister have not even gone before the Cabinet. This includes two new coal power plants.
Also in the list are the proposed 300MW natural gas combined cycle power plant by the CGL Windforce Consortium and the 300MW natural gas combined cycle power plant by Lakdanawi. Both have been stuck in court for months.
Two other government-to-government funded 300MW natural gas combined cycle power plants (total 600MW) will have project coordinators as will a spate of wind, hydro and solar power parks around the country.
They will be appointed even for the building of power transmission facilities for the non-existent new coal power plants.
Since January, the Power and Energy Ministry has also submitted multiple Cabinet papers seeking approval for varying quantities of emergency power, raising questions about whether scientific data are available for how much the country really needs.
The Cabinet recently approved the purchase of 200MW from a Turkish Karpowership barge for six months and another Karpowership barge for nine months. They are being contracted without tender.
The CEB has already bought 100MW of emergency power from Aggrekko International Power Projects Ltd, Altaaqa Alternative Solutions Global FZE of United Arab Emirates and V Power Holdings Ltd of Hong Kong.