Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 14 February 2016





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Government Gazette

Sampur to get green light

The Central Environment Authority(CEA) after a lapse of over a year has finally granted approval under stringent conditions to implement the Trincomalee (Sampur) Thermal Power Plant project. Prof. Lal Dharmasiri, CEA Chairman told the Sunday Observer that approval for the Environment Impact Assessment report, submitted in January was granted conditional approval.

An authoritative source, however, said the CEA was compelled to approve the project which was riddled with controversy for several years. “There was a political commitment made recently where the government of Sri Lanka could no longer back track, regardless of crippling issues concerning the plant,” he said. The Sunday Observer is in receipt of the confidential document bearing the CEA’s approval of the EIA, which was sent to the Trincomalee Power Company Limited (TPCL) on February 21, two days before Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived in the Island.

It was widely reported that Minister Swaraj had specifically inquired about the Sampur Power Plant and on speeding up clearance for the project which has been in the doldrums since 2006 during the 9th Joint Commission Meeting in Colombo last week.

Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirsena convened a meeting on Thursday (11) to discuss the specifics of the approval from the CEA. Our source who was present at the meeting said the President took a neutral stance regarding the project. The Ministry of Power and Energy along with the CEB accepted conditional approval.

“There was no room for debate or questions, it was a done deal,” the source revealed. “It will be hard for the TPCL to go ahead with so many restrictions and conditions, but it’s necessary to have those in place.”

One of the key proposals in the EIA which was flatly rejected by the CEA was the location of the plant. India proposed that the Plant be located in close proximity to the bay, however, the document notes that disposal of high temperature cooling water into the shell bay was no longer acceptable. Other conditions refer to the disposal of waste water, air pollution control, disposal of solid and hazardous waste, extraction of water, surface draining, noise pollution, transport of materials and safety. The document also notes that people directly affected due to the project will need to be properly compensated by the company.

In August last year, the President handed over title deeds to 25 of the 1272 families displaced from Sampur in 2006. Residents are, however, denied access to 2,795 acres of land demarcated for the project. Some 2,200 people from Sampur are still languishing at several welfare centres in the area.

The JVP lodged a complaint at the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission over the rights of 30,000 people who would be displaced when construction of the plant begins JVP trade union leader KD Lal Kantha said their report concerns the plight of the thousands of internally displaced people.


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