The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), the electricity sector regulator, has kicked off the discussions with the communities that raise concerns on the environment impact of the Norochcholai coal power plant in the North Western Province.
Accordingly, a committee of expertise appointed by PUCSL in March 2016 to study the environmental impact that caused by the thermal power plants in Sri Lanka, the fisheries and farmer community, the representatives of the Ceylon Electricity Board, Central Environmental Authority, North Western Provincial Environmental Authority, Department of Coast Conservation and Environmental Foundation (Guarantee) Ltd. discussed in depth on the issues that the communities raised in this regard.
The discussions came into light as the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka directed the PUCSL to take necessary steps to regularise the environment damage caused by the Norochcholai coal power plant. The direction was given with regard to the ongoing Fundamental Rights application pending at the Supreme Court on the environmental impact of the power plant, which PUCSL informed that it has already commenced the process to reduce the damage caused by the fly ash as well as the remaining coal in that area.
The Supreme Court said all the matters concerning the environmental damage caused would be looked into by the PUCSL, which is the authority in law entitled to do so.
The first meeting was held on Wednesday, 5 April, and the representatives of various communities and institutions discussed in depth on all the issues that the villagers voiced and in the second meeting held on Monday, 24 April, the villagers submitted all their issues and concerns in writing to the Committee.
The Lakvijaya Power Station, also known as the Norochcholai Power Station, is the largest coal power station in Sri Lanka. The plant which has the capacity of 900 MW generates about 39% of Sri Lanka’s total energy requirement.
The need of establishing community-based committees in order to work hand in hand with the Ceylon Electricity Board to resolve these types of issues that arise from time to time was also discussed in parallel to the development of a regulatory mechanism to address issues in the short, medium and longer term basis.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for 22 May and the outcome of these discussions will be reported by PUCSL to the Supreme Court.