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Norochcholai Coal Power Plant stokes on Tuesday

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Norochcholai coal power plantThe Government has repeatedly said that development would not be compromised under any circumstances and even during terrorism development projects were being carried out.

However, successive leaders had shunned controversial development projects mainly to gain political mileage and stay in power. Two such controversial projects that were confined to the drawing board were the Upper Kotmale and Norochcholai power plants.

Even the Colombo-Matara and Colombo-Katunayake highway projects were delayed as there was no leader to take a tough decision to give them the green light.

However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa went ahead with these controversial projects, keeping in mind the future benefits the country would gain upon their completion.

Today this forward thinking is paying dividends and the much awaited and long overdue Norochcholai power project would be opened on Tuesday.

Norochcholai was the second power project that was kept on hold due to the controversy it had generated as environmentalists said that the project would cause major damage to ecology. The Sampur coal power generation project too attracted a lot of controversy.

However, after many amendments this project was launched and will be opened on Tuesday by President Rajapaksa.

The plant uses advanced technology which prevents the emanation of soot and smog. Even the waste water will be pumped out to the sea, preventing any harm to the fisheries resources in the area.
Norochcholai coal power plant view from Sea
The first stage of the Norochcholai project would generate 300 mega watts of power to the national grid and the investment for the total project would be Rs. 155 billion. It would be in a position to generate a unit of electricity at around Rs. 5.

The delivery of the first shipment of 65,500 MT of coal at a cost of US$ 7 million from Indonesia was completed.

The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) has decided to bear the cost of the project as the CEB is now turning out to be a profit-making venture. “We will start reimbursing this amount to the Treasury from 2015”, Minister of Power and Energy, Patali Champika Ranawaka said.

A large fire had broken out at the plant on October 24, 2010. According to the Ceylon Electricity Board, there were no casualties. The Ministry of Power and Energy commented that damages to the facility would be borne by the constructors, and not the Government or the developers.
Relocation of families

The second and third phases of the project, which would generate another 600MW of power, will become operational by 2013.

The origin of a coal-powered plant could be traced back to the early 1980s. Plans for the first ever construction of a coal power plant at Norochcholai in the Kalpitiya region (Puttalam district / North Western Province) were made in the 1990s. It was postponed due to several issues and also due to lack of funds.

The relocation of the families affected due to the construction of the plant was one of the priorities of the Government. The 72 displaced families have now been provided alternative housing with all amenities and infrastructure facilities, inclusive of potable water, electricity, roads and transport, in a housing complex at Daluwa in Norochcholai. They were also paid compensation.

In addition those who were engaged in the fishing industry have been provided fishing boats and gear and plots of land amounting to 2 1/2 acres for cultivation during the fishing-off season.

Meanwhile, the Road Development Authority has re-laid a road which helps the community to a great extent.

A new power line with 288 towers has also been installed at a cost of $70 million from the Norochcholai power house to the Veyangoda grid sub- station to distribute power to a large area.Coal in the ship

Many countries have resorted to coal-fired power plants to overcome power shortages. America generates over 300,000 MW from coal which amounts to half its power demand. India turns out more than two thirds of its electricity from coal power plants with an installed capacity of about 100,000 MW. China produces four fifths of its energy from coal power plants.

The Norochcholai venue was selected mainly as it was adjoining the sea, making unloading of coal easier.
International standards

The CEB has adhered to international standards with regard to emissions and the waste water too would be treated. Steps have also being taken to release seawater back to the sea after cooling, so that it won’t lead to environmental concerns. “This waste water would not kill the fish nor damage the sea plants in the area.”

Another land-mark of the project would be the 150-metre (492 ft) tall chimney that will be one of the country’s tallest non-habitable man-made structures.

This chimney would be used to release smoke. Project Engineer R. Lokubalasuriya said that a painstaking procedure to meet international environmental standards is being used here.

“The burned fuel that generates Sulphur Dioxide will be diluted through an FCD absorber from the bottom. Sea water too would be sprayed in the process to further neutralise the fumes and gases.

These would all happen inside the chimney and the dust would fall to a large water-filled basin at the bottom of the chimney”, he said.

The coal that would be unloaded in mid-sea would be transported through barges to the plant’s newly-built jetty and would be unloaded by two cranes. Then it would be loaded to a conveyer belt which would bring the coal to the two-acre yard that has the capacity to store coal for three months.
Responsible manner
The coal transportation to the plant
The yard has been constructed with a layer of polyphone, and other chemicals with a thickness of nearly two feet.

Waste would be pumped to the sea through a 300-metre culvert after going through an air pump nozzle.

The Minister said all aspects including safety and environmental concerns have been taken into consideration before building this plant.

“This is our country and we would never do anything to damage it”, he said

www.sundayobserver.lk by Shirajiv SIRIMANE