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Sri Lankans fall into abyss without light by their own foolhardiness

Crisis ridden government facing repercussions for its policy blunders  began imposing record nationwide 13-hour daily power cuts as it ran out of hydro-electricity on top of a severe shortage of fuel.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) has approved the Ceylon Electricity Board’s request for 13-hour interruptions to the power supply tomorrow (March 31).

The CEB had sought to increase the duration of power cuts to 13 hours due to the unavailability of fuel for thermal power plants

The South Asian nation of 22 million people is in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, because of a severe shortage of foreign currency to pay for imports triggered by the government’s failure to take economic policy action on time suggested by eminent economic experts.

The island nations food security is also at a severe risk owing to   government’s overnight policy decision of shifting to organic farming banning the imports of chaemical fertliser to avert dollar crisis.

This  decision boomeranged forcing the government to import organic fertioliser and later chemical fertliser spending millions of dollars un necessarily, economic experts said. 

The state electricity monopoly Ceylon Electricty Board (CEB)  said it was imposing the 13-hour power cut, up from a seven-hour outage since the beginning of the month, because there was no oil to power thermal generators.

More than 40 percent of Sri Lanka’s electricity is generated from hydro, but most of the reservoirs were running dangerously low because there had been no rains, officials said.

Most electricity production is from coal and oil. Both are imported but in short supply as the country does not have enough foreign exchange to pay for supplies.

Meanwhile, the main fuel retailer, the state-owned Ceylon Petrolium Corporation (CPC), said there would be no diesel in the country for at least two days.

The CPC told motorists waiting in long queues at petrol stations to leave and return only after imported diesel is unloaded and distributed.

Fuel prices have also been increased frequently with petrol up by 92 percent and diesel by 76 percent since the beginning of the year.

The government took 12 days to find $44 million to pay for the latest shipment of LP gas and kerosene, officials said.

Colombo imposed a broad import ban in March 2020 to save foreign currency needed to service its $51 billion in foreign debts.

But this has led to widespread shortages of essential goods and sharp price rises.
Many hospitals have stopped routine surgeries, and supermarkets have been forced to ration staple foods, including rice, sugar and milk powder.

There will not be diesel for the next two days owing to a delay in unloading stocks from a ship. a result the public have been urged not to queue at fuel stations for diesel on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) said that the unloading of 37,500 metric tonnes of diesel from a ship has been delayed.

The delay in the unloading will result in stocks not being distributed to fuel stations.However, the CPC said that sufficient stocks of petrol will be distributed to fuel stations.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union (CEBEU) says the duration of interruptions to the power supply will have to be extended in the coming days, as the remaining stocks of fuel required for power generation activities are now running out.

Addressing a media briefing, the CEBEU’s chairperson Anil Ranjith Induwara said the fuel stocks at the Barge Mounted Power Plant are sufficient only for three more days.

Mr. Induwara, speaking further on the matter, said the CEB is able to supply electricity if the required amount of fuel is provided. He went on to call on the government and relevant authorities including the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to expedite the measures to supply fuel.

With regard to hydropower generation, the CEBEU chairman stated that despite the water levels of reservoirs dropping drastically, the CEB is capable of supplying 300 MW during the daytime and 700 MW at night.

In response to a question raised by a media person, he said the people will be affected by the power interruptions during the upcoming festive season, if fuel stocks are not supplied and adequate rainfall is not received.

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