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Sri Lanka may shelve India backed Sampur coal power plant project

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The Sri Lankan government is considering to shelve the proposed project to build a 500 megawatt coal powered plant in Sampur by India in favor of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plant, according to a report in the state-run English weekly Sunday Observer.

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Accordingly, a delegation of the Ministry of Power and Energy will meet their Indian counterparts on Friday, May 20 to discuss the possibility of shelving the US$ 600 million project funded by India.

The Sampur coal power plant is to be built in a 500 acre land in Trincomalee district of the Eastern Province with the financial assistance from India. The thermal power plant to be built by India’s state-owned NTPC Ltd at an estimated cost of US$ 600 million will add 500 megawatts to the national grid.

However, the location of the power plant has been a concern since the internally displaced persons (IDPs), who were displaced in 2006, are yet to be resettled in Sampur.

An official at the Ministry of Power and Energy said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CEM) has decided to conduct feasibility studies to set up Liquefied Natural Gas plants in Sampur instead of coal powered plants.

“The CEM has arrived at several decisions which include negotiating the need for a coal power plant and replacing it with a cleaner model like LNG,” the official was quoted as saying.

“They have also decided to suspend all activities including tenders that have already been called,” the official added.

He said that the CEM also discussed enabling the Kerawalapitiya power plant to operate on dual fuel basis with the facility to convert to LNG when needed.

A spokesperson for the Ceylon Electricity Board, Sulakshana Jayawardena told the Sunday Observer that the crucial talks on May 20 would decide the way forward.

“Due to stiff opposition to the Sampur Power plant on social and environmental grounds, we are thinking of setting up LNG plants, but it has not been finalized as yet,” he said.

However, officials at the Trincomalee Power Company Limited (TPCL) have said that work on the proposed coal power plant was proceeding uninterrupted. “We called for tenders and will open them for bidding.”

The Sri Lankan government has recently decided to consult the Indian and Japanese governments to invest in LNG based power plants.

Input from Sunday Observer SL

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