16 July, 2019

Blog

Do Not Steal Our Birthright

By Ranil Senanayake

Dr Ranil Senanayake

The totally incredulous decision announced by the Prime Minister and by Minister for Power and Energy that Sri Lanka should rely even more on more fossil fuels, specifically on more coal powered power plants, cannot go unanswered.  The callous disregard of the health of the next generations, or even the violation of our fundamental right to breathe the quality of air that we grew up in seems to have no value for these ‘leaders’. The entire goal of ‘economic development’, to Sri Lanka politicians seem to be unable to see beyond, ‘borrow as much money as we can and boast about how much was borrowed,’ with no idea on how to pay back that loan. They create a massive dependency on power by selling cheap to industry and ‘development’ projects and then whinge that we need coal fired power plants never mind their impact on public health and cultural artefacts.

What words can be used to describe people who sell and destroy the birthright and culture of their own people for the gain of personal wealth or political power?  To answer this question, it is critical to understand the scope of the words birthright and culture.

A Birthright is the privilege or possession that a person has or is believed to be entitled to as soon as he or she is born. The primary birthright of any human is the right to life. Once alive, the ability to continue living is a consequence of the environment that the person is born into. Thus the birthright of any individual will be to enjoy whatever health and wellbeing the environment that they have been born into can provide. While there is a great discrepancy in the nature of the environments that each of us are born into, the condition of that environment we are born into must represent our most fundamental birthright. Any degradation of that environment must transgress that right and must be seen as transgressing our fundamental human right.

Culture is the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, to act imaginatively and creatively; and the distinct ways that people, who live differently, classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Culture represents the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.

With these definitions in mind, we can examine the intent and the consequences of the decisions to create a nation dependent on coal fired power plants as their primary source of energy. 

Irrespective of the debate on energy profligacy as an indicator of ‘development’, it will be of value to look at the human cost of the currently promoted cheap energy source ‘Coal’. Is this activity compromising our fundamental right, the right to life?

 In a healthy population the right to life has been expressed well, a people enjoying a high quality of air, should not have their right to life compromised by the choice of our sources of energy. We are being bullied into a future that depends of the burning of coal for our power needs. Do we need to invest our capital in creating a slew of national problems?

But let us look at birthright and culture. In committing this nation to be coal dependent what might be the possible consequences to our birthright and culture?

The greatest of all gifts is the gift of health, said the Buddha.  Does coal bring health to a nation? Two nations ensnared in having to burn coal for their power needs are China and India.

The South China Morning Post Wed Nov 5th 2014 reports that the pollution caused by coal burning killed an estimated 670,000 in China in 2012

In a study of the cost of coal burning for power plants a new study made during 2012 and officially backed by the China Academy of Environmental planning who agreed with research by Tsinghua and Peking Universities that suggested that the massive health problems that China today was a consequence of burning coal to drive the power plants they conclude that a sum 260 Yuan must be added to each tonne of Coal burnt to account for the health cost to the nation.  Today China has cancelled all new coal fired power plants and is looking at replacing the existing output, through renewables. That is a government sensitive to the health and well-being of its people.

In addition to the well-known consequences of Lead and Mercury, Sulphuric compounds and Oxides of Nitrogen are produced by Coal burning power plants, all of which produce gasses that mix with the ambient air and degrade the human birthright to a healthy air quality.  

For instance, burning coal releases large amounts of the neurotoxin mercury into the air. Globally, coal-fired power plants are the single largest emitter of mercury emissions, accounting for over 50 percent of the mercury pollution caused by humans.

Once released, mercury settles in streams, lakes and rivers and on the earth itself, where it infiltrates the groundwater. From there, it enters the food chain via algae and infects all life forms, from minnows to predator fish to birds and mammals, whose diets include fish, it goes up the food chain, the concentration of mercury intensifies.

Emissions from the coal-burning power plants release the mercury into the atmosphere, which can travel thousands of miles before coming back to the Earth or the ocean. Billions of tons of coal being burned in Asia (especially India and China) have sent all the resulting mercury over the Pacific Ocean. Here it gets into the ocean’s food chain. The microorganisms in the sea convert this metallic mercury, which is not terribly hazardous, into another form of mercury called methyl mercury, which is very hazardous.

All coal contains tiny amounts of mercury, but it adds up when millions and millions of tons of coal are burned each year. Plankton absorbs the mercury, which are then eaten by small fish, and up the food chain. Thus, the disturbing levels of mercury that are currently found in oceanic fish such as Tuna, Swordfish etc. actually comes from coal-burning power plants.

Eating more than a little of such fish is not recommended for pregnant women and very young children. A recent study demonstrated that in the baby’s brain, it kills neurons, it erodes the connections between cells and results in babies born with a three to eight points lower IQ than they should have had, they tend to have shorter attention spans, and behavior spans.

In Puttlam and along the Kalpitiya lagoon, where 15% of the fish consumed through the nation comes from, establishing coal fired power plants is like bringing open bottles of poison into a house with small children.

In addition to the poison load in food, there is the added specter of PM2.5. or tiny particulate matter emanating from Coal fired power plants, these substances alone contributed to 670,000 premature deaths in China. Deaths resulted from lung cancer, coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  The study also found that over 70 percent of population was exposed to annual PM2.5 pollution levels higher than 35 micrograms per cubic meter, the benchmark of clean air quality for China.  A previous study published in the British medical journal Lancet, stated that in 2010 outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China. A specialist in the area, Dr. Lockwood, has provided data on the toxicology and physiological effects of small particulate matter. His studies demonstrate how inhaling small particles might cause heart disease, stroke, adverse pregnancy outcomes, IQ loss, and perhaps even diabetes. China is now scrambling to find and answer, difficult today, as the country relies on this fuel for over 70 percent of its energy needs.

The poisoning from coal does not stop there. After it is burnt there are the mountains of coal ash.  Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Piled into surface mounds it gets picked up by the wind and distributed for miles around. The toxins found in Coal ash are, Chromium, Selenium, Lead, Arsenic and Boron.

Chromium affects the Brain and Spine. Ingestion of chromium can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers, anemia, and stomach cancer. Frequent inhalation can cause asthma, wheezing, and lung cancer

The question that must arise in the public mind must be ‘are our fundamental right to life being compromised by the operation of coal fired power plants?’   The watchdogs of society the ministries under whose purview comes public health and the environment, must answer this question. They must examine the EIA’s and check if there is any disclosure of the facts above when considering granting licenses.

In addition to all these woes there will be a negative impact on the biodiversity of the region affected by the the combination of flue gasses, Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulphur creating acidification of the soil and foliage.  This effect has been proven time after time all over the world.

 Culturally, we live on a land where the rocks were turned into the art that bespoke our culture. Clouds of acid rain from coal-fired power plants will accelerate the rate of erosion of all exposed surfaces. Ignoring the possibility of the erosion of our cultural icons truly indicates an erosion of the culture. Why there was no mention of or concern shown to address these possibilities, beggar’s belief.

Acid rain is formed when oxides of nitrogen and sulfite emanating from Coal fired power stations, combine with moisture in the atmosphere to make nitric and sulfuric acids. The more coal flue gasses, the more concentrated the acidity and any precipitation with a pH level less than 5.6 is considered to be acid rainfall.  It will begin to erode the cultural artifacts.  The difference between regular precipitation and acid precipitation is the pH level.

There are some who decry concern for the Sri Maha Bhodiya, But the reality is that being a plant it too will suffer the way all plants around it will suffer when the slow poisoning of the acid rain begins.

It is al so important to ask what is the need for all this power ?  Is it to supply Sri Lankans their basic needs or is it to push industry and consumptive lifestyles. Is it to supply the new urban structures that have begun to destroy the quality of the air in the city of Colombo ?

So while the Norocholi Power plant is currently poisoning the air of the rural areas in the North West, the decrease in air quality in Colombo is due to the nonsensical push to create mega, energy consuming and atmosphere stifling structures. This lopsided idea of ‘development’ requires energy to drive it. Thus the call for any type of power no matter how dangerous as long as these power plants can feed their Megapolis.  This is such a stupid reason for poisoning our children and grandchildren

It seems that the Environmental Protection Agency too is too busy protecting the Agency more than protecting the public from the high impact on air quality crated by the mega construction mega traffic flows. Maybe it is time to call in the ‘Mega Police’.

The people of this nation must take a stand on the political abuse of our air and water quality in the name of ‘development’. The discounting of our fundamental rights in the name of ‘development’ must cease. Let us begin with creating a national movement to safeguard this nation by opposing the building of coal fired power plants anywhere in the future!

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Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    Ranil Senanayake: I think Srilanka should not be prejudiced because other countries that have very expensive research costs talk. that is Sri lankan electrical engineers can fix some filters (particulate filters, absorbent materials and water like filtering strategies) to purify the smoke. I think saying NO to COAL is very short sighted . Srilanka is not the developed world. LNG is cheap and there is an unending supply. but, even as the developed world can use it, as they have the extracting and selling market, they exploit it to make profits. but, the coal industry is not like that. Because of that, Sri lanka must use. If the govt is not going for it because of THE COMMIS SCAMS, electrical engineers should develop that side and sell it to the govt keeping the APATENT RIGHTS TO THEM.

    • 1
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      Dr. Ranil Senanayake,

      Thanks for your article on the power crisis in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, whose birthright has been stolen by the Paras from Bharat, and the environment and habitats destroyed over the centuries.

      Now you are talking about the ‘birthright’ of the Paras. Very interesting.

      Yes, the so-called ‘leaders ‘ Ranil W and Ravi K, of the Paras, are the current office holders, who inherited the problems of poor planning by their predecessors.

      Many other countries are going for a mix of technologies for power. There are micro grids powered by solar, wind and other technologies. The international space station is powered by solar panels to the the tube of 100 kW.

      Of course there is a dire need to educated the Para politicians and the Paras who elect them. Many times, one wonders whether the Paras know if they are coming or going.

      In the shorter term, there are fewer options compared to coal and natural gas. However, without proper planning, the same problem will prop up year after year, and it will be a new set corrupt politicians who will have to deal with the problem.

    • 2
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      Dear JD,
      .
      Going on your argument, “Liquefied natural gas” is what we should use, but you suddenly say, “use coal”. You had said, “LNG” as though all would know it. That is the difference between your writing (which brings us to a puzzling solution) and Ranil’s. I’ve read the article again, more carefully; it really can be easily understood. Yet, I know that the man is really very learned.
      .
      You confuse me.
      .
      Ranil is the grandson of F.R. Senanayake, and he tended to be too “nationalistic”. I have said that in the comment I made when I saw none. However, in this article, there is none of that. There are references to the “Sri Maha Bhodiya” and to Buddhism, but those, as he says are our “birthright.” Absolutely! His is wonderful writing, so easy to follow, so rational.
      .
      JD, what makes you think that “Sri lankan electrical engineers can fix some filters”? From the context, “Sri Lankan seems to = Sinhalese.” “Spring Koha” and I have not pretended to know the solutions. You do. And then bring your customary communalism into it all, with a reference to the “TNA” in a later comment.
      .
      Already, it is clear from the thirteen comments that I see that all have understood better than you, JD.

      .

    • 0
      0

      Dr. Ranil, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) of the World Bank group has granted Sri Lanka USD 1.8 million to implement the Climate Mitigation Action Support Project.
      The jargon filled objectives of this new World Bank surveillance and Sri Lanka BIG DATA gathering Project are: to strengthen capacities and systems to implement national climate change policies, strategies and actions; and to design or strengthen market/non-market mitigation instruments. Those objectives will be achieved by designing and implementing an optimal policy package, designing a national monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) and registry system, piloting a national MRV system, with an initial focus on project/facility-level emissions and emission reductions, designing the institutional, legal and technical framework to support the enhanced, Piloting the enhanced Sri Lanka Carbon Crediting Scheme (SLCCS), developing a roadmap for a new carbon pricing instrument (CPI) and carrying out a program of activities that support consultation… and the plot thickens.
      What is really needed is a FOREIGN AID Fake development projects corruption monitoring and reporting system in Sri Lanka!

      First the Washington Consensus turns Lanka to a Carbon and Debt trap with its puppet Bondscam Ranil and butterfly mafia and their Fake Energy development projects- 5 LNG plants, 3 Coal plants etc. and then sets about setting of the SL Carbon Credit Scheme. Oh what a circus!

    • 1
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      Dear Ranil,
      It is nice to hear from you after a long time. For your information Electrical engineers of the CEB are in corrupt partnership with corrupt politicos. Supreme Court is weak here. Every body holding a responsible post can be easily purchased. Sunil R. de Silva,

    • 0
      0

      Strange that you aren’t aware of COAL is not cheap any longer…even renewable energy is cheaper than Coal now once coupled with a smart grid, long term economic and social impact evaluations! Not only even the deployment time and exchange outflow.

  • 8
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    Thanks, Dr Ranil Senanayake, for providing us with such a balanced and comprehensive account of the dilemmas facing our country, and the world as a whole. You are one of the very few who are qualified to speak with authority on this subject.
    .
    I’m sure that Maithripala Sirisena was sincere enough when he attended the Paris Climate Conference and enthusiastically sponsored almost all Environmental and Health issues, but see where he’s landed himself. Either because he feels that “the elite” will sell our country, or because he’s quite simply mad, he’s totally forgotten all the fine things that he was saying he’s now obsessed with clinging to the Presidency.
    .
    Your background is the antithesis of his. Please continue to take up these causes, and focus on the future of our over-crowded planet. In the past, you’ve tended to get too narrowly nationalistic on some issues. We’ve now got to focus on bringing about the necessary political changes that will enable us to bring into the leadership of our country some younger people who will accept the mistakes of our past and focus on taking forward all our people into a future where communities will stop competing to multiply their kind etc.
    .
    Young Ahimsa Wickrematunga has struck one of the very necessary political blows necessary to rid our country of the ancient fellows belonging to our generations, so as to hand this country over to more intelligent younger people. This is a problem that has beset us since independence.
    .
    I must confess that I haven’t studied carefully all that you have said. At one level, it is all too obvious; at another, it requires tremendous erudition of Botany, Chemistry etc. which I don’t have.
    .
    Thanks for a most timely article.

  • 2
    1

    LNG is almost an unending supply in the world, yet everything in LNG is in the stock market. Even though LNG supposed to be cheap as the global warming reduces the needs of the gas, Stock market needs LNG prices high. COal is almost abandoned by the stock market because of that it is better to go with coal and ask Sri lankan engineers to invent methods such as using filters to purify the smoke. Then they have to protrct the invented technology as Industrial espionage would steal it and they would buy it for cheaper etc. All those renewable energy production also has problems. For example, birds flying in the sky can get roasted when they fly over the solar cells. Wind generators also cause harm to birds. Magnetism in cell phone towers can cause disorientation of birds. So, there is no perfect supply. The best thing is ENERGY CONSERVATION AND REDUCED USE. People should give too much luxury.

  • 2
    2

    I heard the govt is not developing the Samapura coal fire power plant because of TNA influence. they should develop it and Ask engineers to develop methods to purify smoke from Coal fire.
    There is no renewable power general on which does not have secondary negative effects on the environment. Another good source is TIDE-power generation. I heard some Tea estates have good winds.

    • 1
      0

      It is not TNA influence. Sampur coal power was stopped because the residents put up a valiant struggle to regain their lands and to save the environment and marine life which will be destroyed if the project went through. The entire world is rejecting coal power for it’s environmental degradation whereas only Srilanka which is a pariah state wants to have it. Voices of experts in the calibre of Dr. Ranil Senanayake should be heard.

      By the way JD, there is no place called Sampura. It is Sampur which is a village in the Eastern province in close proximity to Trincomalee. Go throw away your petty prejudices and you will be a better man.

      • 0
        0

        The ame Sampur came into being only ibn the 19th century. It was initially Somapura as it lies in the acheological area of the Smawathie Chayithya. The name has also become Samapura, and Sampur in its anglicization and Tamilzation.
        See the website dh-web.org/place.names/index.html#somapura for details.

  • 5
    0

    This is the ultimate abuse of the people of this blessed land. We have been fortunate to be marooned away from the rest of Asia – our shores caressed by the blue waters, our air purified by the sweet breezes, of the Indian ocean. So what have we done in the last 70 years? We have rushed headfirst into pollution with scarcely a second thought for the generations to come. Our seas our polluted (and we happily allow passing ships to pollute without any fear of prosecution), our rivers and streams our polluted, our earth and the water table is polluted, and the air we breath is full of toxins. This latest is another nail in the coffin of future generations. None of the politicians give a damn – not if a good deal with mouth-watering commission are on offer.

  • 5
    0

    With the Minister of Environment being the president, what good would any intelligent discourse on this subject do, when ‘special interests’ (read ‘the family’) ensures that enriching themselves is the primary imperative?

    So what else is new in this ‘wonder of Asia’, that is now exposed as the 5th of the Top 20 Countries Ranked by Mass of Mismanaged Plastic Waste (https://www.earthday.org/2018/04/06/top-20-countries-ranked-by-mass-of-mismanaged-plastic-waste/)?

    Our hearts should bleed for the coming generations of Sri Lankans that will have to live in a wasteland close to Hades caused by our own ‘peraythayas’.

    • 1
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      Many thanks, Buzzword.
      .
      I’ve visited the site you’ve linked us to. It looks as though our guilt is even greater than you show it to be.
      .
      What is meant by kg/ppd? The table has us in fifth positions because it has been arranged by the ” percentage of mismanaged plastics” column. Overall for “Wastage Generation Rate” we’re way ahead of everybody else. I hope that some others will also inspect that table and tell us what it seems to be saying.
      .
      Reminds me of some Sinhalese who actually told me that they were happy about July 1983 because we made World News.
      ‘Americans actually knew where Sri Lanka was on the “Map of the World”.’

  • 4
    0

    MS correctly aborted purchasing the Coal plant on the public educating him through social media. However, the mafia continuously pursued and created a situation to convince the present minister to go again for coal plant. It is tragic that govt. is not investigating the CEB by CID and subjecting to forensic analysis by the Auditor General. All transactions and frauds that are taking place at the CEB and the associated fraudsters should be brought to justice whether powerful or not. The public servants who promoted the frauds should be brought to justice. If this is not done, we have to consider that the present govt. too are involved with this mafia to commit fraud.

  • 4
    0

    Real reason is overpopulation and urbanisation. When people live in small box type rooms along with simmering temperatures (due to global warming) they try to have air conditioners for every room and this needs a lot of energy. Gone are the days when natural ventilation and the clay tile roofs provided cool buildings. Now all the skyscrapers coming up all need air conditioning. Another reason is deforestation where our reservoirs dry up after a week from heavy rains since the sponge effect of the forest cover is no longer there. Look at Pidurutalagala where the outer skirt is moving up every year for people to build hotels and houses. This is largely due to the neglect by the forest conservation department owing to the pressure by corrupt politicians. As a result our hydroelectricity generation capacity is going down and we have to unfortunately depend on coal power. Furthermore transboundary pollution from the coal power plants in southern India also has a significant impact on the air quality specially on the northern areas with both PM2.5 and acid rain getting deposited in Sri Lanka

    • 1
      0

      Dear academic ,
      .
      Your observations, and those of Ad, above, and of Dingiri (below) are very true.
      .
      Many others, too. The knaves are few. How is it that their views so often prevail?
      .
      I grant that we didn’t enjoy the power cuts. We’d like to enjoy our “high standard of living”, which is already way below that prevailing in countries that were far behind us at independence. Why? The main reason for that is that it’s not just bickering that we’ve seen here, but bloody war.
      .
      Humanity as a whole will have to face upto the fact that our species cannot be as prodigal as we have been.

  • 3
    0

    Good stuff keep it coming – How do you whitewash a CIA Black Site in the Indian Ocean? You Greenwash it and turn Diego Garcia/Chaogs Island into a ‘Marine Reserve’ having first evicted local people! Environment and development discourse is used to promote land grabs and ocean grabs for environment polluting big business and military bases…
    Sri Lanka has LNG reserves in the Mannar Basin, but these have been earmarked for corrupt deals with foreign oil and energy companies as SL energy policy is drafted by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to benefit foreign security interests in IO.
    Like Venezuela, Haiti, Ghana, Greece, Ecuador etc. Lanka is being played – debt trapped and currency manipulated in the Euro bond, sovereign bond game to be asset stripped..
    Long live Miracle of Modayas!

  • 2
    0

    Every step makes a footprint. Any development tamed to be profitable & boast about how much was borrowed, who pay the next

  • 1
    0

    Most of SL’s politicians have been, & are, self serving & lack the education as well to govern a country. There were exceptions like Athulathmudali who had the vision to develop natural resources, such as, the Colombo port, but since then, we have ‘development’ without proper feasibility or infrastructure. Particularly, the Rajapakse regime, opened the doors for corruption at mega level with free for all’ opportunities in the corruption stakes.
    Corruption since the Sirima Bandaranayaka period has been increasing & has been exponential in the past few decades with Sirsena taking the biscuit as an incompetent, uneducated President, totally beyond his depth. We had similar uneducated Presidents & PMs but Sirisena, apparently not to be outdone by the Rajapakses, is shamelessly & openly accumulating wealth as much as possible during his tenure, & to day, the culture down the line is very much established as ‘gather ye rose buds while you can’. In this context, who, among the politicians & bureaucrats, give a monkey’s about the environment?
    In developed countries, saving the environment is a major concern with recycling encouraged from garden & kitchen waste to packaging & industrial waste. There is a ‘tax’ on plastic containers & carrier bags & polluting vehicles are penalised heavily, particularly in London, where an ‘ultra low emission zone’ has been created & polluting (old) vehicles entering the zone are fined as it has been proven that high levels of pollution in congested cities caused by vehicles are causing respiratory diseases, particularly, in young children. In SL we have an aging population of old vehicles well past their service life thanks to a typical short sighted policy of heavily taxing new, more efficient vehicles. We have a blanket emission standard for all vehicles, which itself does not make sense, yet I see vehicles, particularly, old trucks & buses, belching smoke on the roads.

  • 5
    0

    The sheer stupidity of it all. Why spend over an hour driving when it takes only 40minutes to cycle the 10km from Battaramulla to Fort? It is healthier too.

    I do see the difficulties. Breathing diesel fumes, the danger of being flattened by an SUV in a ministerial convoy, needing a shower and a change of clothes at the end of the ride etc. But these can all be overcome by meaningful policies and strategies.

    We need to

    Stop all private motor car traffic into Colombo zones 1 – 15 on week days allowing access only for public transport, taxis and bicycles.

    Improve the frequency and quality of busses by standardising to a particular design.

    Improve the rail network to 21st Century standards. (Even 20th Century is ok)

    I am sure the above can be achieved with the savings made on fuel wasted by mile upon mile of near stationary traffic in the arteries into and out of the City. The improvement in air quality and reduction in CO2 emissions alone will make the exercise worth it.

    If not implemented we can look forward to spending a good portion of our lives gridlocked on our commutes to work while our brains are slowly atrophied by the NO2 and Particles in diesel emmissions.

  • 3
    0

    For the past few weeks the “We need more electricity” was in full swing. The latest is “We need electricity at any cost” meaning ‘Coal or gas’ fired.
    The Noratchoolai coal power plant was given WhiteVan-type protection from design stage through to trails.
    It is a white elephant.
    .
    The proposed power plants are a way to privatise the generation and distribution of electricity.
    What about the Noratchoolai-type breakdowns?
    Simple. Floating power plants are on the ready in Turkey.

    • 0
      0

      Dear K.Pillai,
      .
      I get what you mean. Thanks.
      .
      A couple of typos, though? “trials”, not “trails”?
      .
      I think that you know that I’m also prone to allowing such slips to proliferate! Old age creeping on me, I guess. Many thanks for coming to my rescue two weeks ago!
      .
      Also, some may miss the sarcasm in your last line.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Sir

    Thank you so much for the article. The reason we are struggling is because we have become a Nation incapable of due diligence work anymore on any subject that really matters. People talk any subject in any way they feel including silencing others for good has been our history. The same misfits still talking the same but not the science and technology that should free us all from this certain slow/miserable death of all living/bio diversity.

    Can we start a movement to help our ministries to get this part of getting this environmental and energy management on a holistic way forward please.

    I share some interesting documentaries we should all watch together with our families/share in schools etc.This will complement what you have written above……there is a way out all you have captured comprehensively is the message……we need to make the following as the foundation for all our future planning

    https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/battery-powered-homes/
    https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/breakthrough-renewable-energy/
    https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/future-energy/
    https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/future-abundance/
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nls8HQCoJS0

  • 0
    0

    How do they get the timing right for these projects? Fishy fishy fishy…
    ..
    The question is how best it’s for the general public??
    ..
    How can we hope for a win win deal with this bunch??
    ..
    Even the best projects have ended up in disaster. Until we change the top you can’t bank on any project.
    ..
    Business control the world, not the politicians or the UN. Even this project is planned for profits and not to give us benefits.
    ..
    Once the project is done, then starts the game of maximising the profits.
    ..
    There will be foreign investors in the project, hence our strength will go from bad to worse.
    ..
    Business control even science, don’t believe the scientists.
    ..
    Mid 20th century they said smoking is good, carbon dating flaws, BP spill and cover up, pesticide residues and many more.
    ..
    Strengthening the government sector is the only way to tackle this issue. Still there will definitely be corruption but will be very much less.

  • 1
    0

    Desperate need of More Solar power ,Windmill and hydrogen .
    And The government must immieditly privatise the entire western province Garbage collection ,disposal.and set up.a recycling plant , We desperately need to invite foreign expert companies to.merge with local.companies for waste management and power supply .

  • 0
    4

    Ranil Senanayake’s Lament is unfortunately completely misplaced and factually false.
    He quotes death figures from China due to coal powered electricity generation. He forgets that the total per capita emissions in Sri Lanka from all sources is less than one tenth that of China.
    WE are not a polluting or a GHG emitting country.
    Ranil Sena likes to drive panic into the mind of the public and become a great GREEN WEERAYA, where as what he says is simply bloated hyperbole not applicable to Sri lanka.
    Tamil Nadu has some 20 or 30 coal power plants along its southern sea coast and so Sri Lanka has, in effect already 20 coal plants at its door step- he should first protest to the Indian Embassy. The Sampur plant, planned in 1987 but delayed by these environmental zealots and government tender-board crooks would have added only a negligible amount of pollution to the environment. These delays cause more pollutuion by giving an excuse to the Diesel generator lobby. People like Ranil S must take the blame for it.
    Can Mr. Senanayake give us figures for mercury and lead deposited by the Norchcholai generator? He doesn’t because he has no idea what they are.
    He issued a press release not so long ago saying that the Sri Maha Bodhi was affected by coal fumes, trying to be the darling of the Buddhist lobby and frighten the public. What he said had no scientific foundation. He has cozied up to Venerable Ratana as well.
    Is this science or misguided zealotry?
    Ranil Senanayake perhaps knows that Sri Lanka consumes some 70,000 barrels of fossil fuel per day, most of which get burnt in belching Diesel and Motor vehicles that ply on Sri Lanka’s roads, while the coal imports are not even a significant fraction of that .

  • 3
    0

    Retired ? from what ? You sound like someone who benefits from the coal deals. If you were involved in the CEB Coal plant: I guess you are not concerned that Kalpitiya women have dangerously high mercury level from your coal plant.

    http://dailylankadeepa.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/181223/news/coal-plant-kalpitiya-women-have-dangerously-high-mercury-level-326359.html

    Pushing a poison agenda despite the evidence of the ill effects of coal. You are a disgrace to this nation.

    I do not know if you are acting alone or if your ‘masters’ put you up to this, but I challenge you or your ‘masters’ to a public debate on the value of coal power for Sri Lanka.

    One request, take your mask off, its disgusting to hide and throw stones

    • 0
      2

      To Ranil S

      And how do you know that the newspaper report is valid, and that the mercury came from the coal plant?
      READ WHAT YOUR TIMES NEWPAPER LINK SAYS:
      “The main source of mercury is eating tainted fish. In Sri Lanka, both the coal-fired power plant and emissions from a cement factory had contributed mercury contamination to adjacent waterways, elevating the levels in women living nearby, the study said. Women who ate few fish, small fish or who ate fish infrequently recorded the lowest mercury levels” .
      In fact the finger is pointed at fish eating.
      Furthermore, the study has NO CONTROL GROUP from an area away from the coal plant..The WHO study of water in Sri Lanka (2013) also found such amounts of mercury in other areas of the country.
      You cannot connect a cause to an effect on the basis of newspaper reports
      Can you show that the isotopic composition of the mercury in this woman (if any) is that of the isotopic composition found in the coal and establish a “chemical fingerprint” as is required for aetiological identification?

      Do you know that total emission from all the Diesel Engines in Trains, tractors and Lorries much exceed that of several coal power stations. Those Diesel emissions have Nitrous, Sulphurous, and other oxide gases, Cd, Hg and other heavy metal toxins and particulate matter just as much as from a coal-fired generator?
      The air in Kandy or Colombo town is more full of toxins than the whole of Norchcholai.

      • 3
        0

        Dear Retired CEB engineer,
        .
        I have read both your comments. You come through to me as a nasty bit of work. I live in Bandarawela, and I’m poor. I need cheap electricity, it is true, but we have also to be mindful of the environment. Although I’m a villager, and not an expert on this subject, we don’t like to be referred to as “uninitiated public”.
        .
        Ranil used to have a forestry project going at Mirahawatte, one of the sites for this disastrous Uma Oya Project. Yes, that project, too, will add some much-needed electricity to the grid. The problem is at what cost? I know that opinion is that long ago it was recognised that the smallish waters of the Uma Oya (at an elevation of at least 3,500 feet) could yield some electricity. It could have been best done by leading it back to the Mahaweli Ganga, and thence to the sea near Trincomalee, but you knaves sold the idea to the (uninitiated and crooked?) Rajapaksas that it could be taken to their home area, to supply (drinking?) water to the ships that were expected to call over at Hambantota.
        .
        So you constructed tunnels 25 miles long, some one thousand feet below ground in places. Nothing has happened to my house, fortunately, but why don’t you come up here? I will show you some of the horrors that happened to dwelling houses in this area.
        .
        Getting back to Ranil, I met him about twenty years ago, but I doubt his remembering me. He needn’t. However, it’ll be good for you to know that there are guys like me in many villages who are not totally ignorant.
        .
        tbc

      • 1
        0

        PART TWO
        .
        Anonymous Retired CEB engineer,
        .
        I will leave it to Ranil to answer the scientific arguments. I don’t know enough. However, I see that you are going out of your way to insult him.
        .
        Is it the need for politeness that makes you address him as “Mr Ranil Senanayake”. I suspect not. I know that Ranil has a very good PhD in Agriculture from a very prestigious University from somewhere in California. You sound the sort of person who will probably cringe before the Wickremasinghe of the same name and call him “Dr Ranil”, knowing full well that he was given an “Honorary Doctorate” by Deakin University in Australia.
        .
        That is enough for me to conclude how seriously to take you, Mr Engineer.
        .
        Good night!

  • 0
    1

    Most people cannt pay big electricity bills. We need to give the public cheap electricity to better themselves, improve their environment, and engage in business etc.. Upper-class fussy romantics living in Col-7 imagine that they are living in California and are applying those standards here in Sri Lanka, when we know that the majority of us are sitting on garbage and dealing with much more intense sources of pollution all around us. This ambient pollution is tens of times more than anything from the coal-fired generators.
    The coal-fired generators produce a tiny tiny bit of pollution in comparison to the rest of the pollution, but the cheap electricity is our way to get OUT OF THE MESS AND THE RUT that we are in.
    Instead of following a scientific, rational approach, here we have a single-cause “tokatatha thyailaya ” solution (i.e., ban coal, ban fertilizers and use cowdung, ban asbestos, ban glyphosate, dont spray Dengu insecticide on mosquitoes, ban.,ban, ban, dont, dont, dont) given by these Environmental zealots who are the obstacle to this country since the 20-year power generation plan was drawn up by qualified CBE people, since 1987, and updated regularly.
    These Environmental Zealots are ready to ban, but they have no alternatives to offer except motherhood and apple pie. The country needs firm continuous power and excess power, so that engineers can shut some plants to do maintenance. Now, we can’t even do that due to overload and the need to go on supplying power so that Mr. Ranil S can keep his lights on and write unsubstantiated stuff to frighten the uninitiated public.
    The Zealots get hold of ignorant politicians, Political Monks etc., and suddenly cancel a generator plant that took 20 years of planning and will take 8 years to build. Building power generators is not like a one-night stand..Doing an internet search we see that Ranl S is some kind of a Mangrove expert and “organic farmer”.

  • 0
    2

    To Ranil S
    Mr. Ranil S wants me to “take my mask off”. The next thing I know will be that various thugs deployed by politicians who are linked to these so-called environmental NGOs will come and stone my house. We know all this well. CEB engineers who do a honourable job while facing the zig zag policies of stupid or crooked politicians, are being slandered left and right,.But of course, being public servants, they can’t talk or give press conferences, to deny the nonsense being said
    against them. They can’t write to debunk the pseudo-science being dished out by Ranil Senananayke and his likes. . The Government officials and engineers have to go through ministry spokesmen who are more interested in defending the Minster or the President. It as the president who canceled the Sampur coal plant in a knee jerk reaction. It is also said that a Korean Liquified gas tender commission was also very attractive to the top people – so this is what the environmental lobby is supporting, while it will cost the earth to the public. Given that Sri Lanka’s per capita GHG emission level is 1/14 that of the USA, we can indeed have 1/14 the level of US coal emissions even if we are to fit in with California standards. This gives us room for many more coal plants, even by Western standards of air quality.

  • 4
    0

    I think the Coal loving CEB engineer need not be concerned that the political thugs will come fr him as he is singing the same song as the politicians . It is us the public and not the crafty bureaucrats who have to face political thugs . In fact he might very well be a political thug himself, defending the PM and he Minister of Energy, masquerading as a clueless engineer making idiotic statements. Thats why hiding behind a mask is suspect.

    Let us examine his grasp of ‘science’
    He says

    1.The coal-fired generators produce a tiny tiny bit of pollution in comparison to the rest of the pollution – Really ? you are like the person who argues that ‘another tiny hol’ in a sinking boat is ok as it is leaking a lot from other places ! What an idiot ! Given the current global crisis with climate change due to fossil carbon, and with all the nations of the world (including Sri Lanka) agreed to cut emissions, what type of fool can argue that ‘A tiny bit more is ok ?

    2. Your ignorance in science is further illustrated by the fact that you do not understand “biological magnification’ of toxins in organisms”. That is why there is less Mercury in small fish and the women were advised to choose them. Read about the Minamata Mercury case in Japan if nothing else. Also, where do you think that the fish around Kalpitiya got the Mercury from ?

    This illustrates the massive problem before us. Going from what this ‘CEB engineer’ says :
    “The country needs firm continuous power and excess power, so that engineers can shut some plants to do maintenance.” Well… I would like to state that the well being of the people and the health of the future generations, is far more important than, making life easy for the engineers.

    And to help the ‘ CEB engineer’ in his desperate web search for my qualifications : I am a Systems Ecologist with a Ph.D. From the University of California and has been a senior scientist for many international institutions the world over. Come on Mr. CEB engineer’ tell us what your qualifications are to be an ‘expert’ in environmental pollution.

    It is tragic for our nation that we have to rely on such poorly trained ‘technicians’ like you advising on our national energy policy. No wonder we are in the mess we are in !

    • 0
      1

      Ranil S says,
      That is why there is less Mercury in small fish and the women were advised to choose them. Read about the Minamata Mercury case in Japan if nothing else. Also, where do you think that the fish around Kalpitiya got the Mercury from ?
      Wrong, the study FOUND less ercury in women who ate small fish. This is true of Colombo women too .
      This “ecologist” seems to think that the Mercury came from the Lakvijaya Plant. A small amount of it would have come from it, and a similar small amount from the Cemenr factory, and from the 50 or more Tamil Nadu plants- but most of it is ambient mercury in the sea.
      Unlike the Minamata(Japan) or Miramachi (Canada)cases, the amount of mercury in Kalpitiya lagoon has NOT been shown to be higher than the ambient amounts in the ocean or in the soil/environment in SriLanka. That is why I cited the WHO (2103) studies, and that the Sunday Times report is flawed because it has no control sample.
      A s”ystems Ecologist” should know that the mercury levels found even in 19th century museum preserved artifacts and fish are much higher (e.g., Jane Sirosis, Collection Forum, vol 16, p65 2001; or see https://www.canada.ca/en/conservation-institute/services/conservation-preservation-publications/canadian-conservation-institute-notes/mercury-museum-collections.html) and eating big fish or organic food (grown on compost where the plant matter has bio-accumulated mercury, Cd, Pb) leads to human bioaccumulation of the mercury, Cd etc in the body.
      This “systems ecologist” claims to have studied abroad but he cannot meet criticism and instead reverts to personal insults typical of the politicians that he seems to be associating (as may be found by Googling his name and the name Ven. Ratana). He thinks that anyone who has an opposing view is an idiot or a crook. He thinks matters must be determined by looking at qualifications and not facing facts.

  • 5
    0

    Thank you Ranil Senanayake. I agree with you on the dangers of polluting sources of electrical energy. However, I feel that the context must not be lost.
    As a trained Power Engineer who has taught power for a lifetime in the US and now lives in Jaffna, I state that the standard for environmental responsibility on us poor folk consuming little energy and putting out little pollution, must be different here and in California. For a poor man having perhaps 3 bulbs burning in his house and a pushbike for transport, cutting back 25% consumption is a lot more difficult than it is for one in California with 2 cars, several air-conditioners and electrical and diesel contraptions for everything that moves.
    For poor Sri Lankans, already skimping on energy use, cutting back is tough. Government owes them uninterrupted electricity. Coal power is a necessity because certainly the poor among us cannot afford higher-cost options. The way to go
    1) One last coal power plant must be built immediately as suggested by Professor Kumar David — https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sampur-coal-power-is-necessary/
    A poor man must often choose to ride a pollution belching bus rather than a costly, environmentally friendly electric car. Would we tell him to stop using the bus service because it is bad for the environment and buy an electric car? We are poor and at present cannot close the doors on coal power. We can only plan to wean ourselves off bad sources of energy.
    2) Quickly build alternative sources of energy
    3) A very steep rise in electricity bills after the basic needs are taken care of must be effected. Naturally charging heavily for those using a lot such as through air-conditioners must be done more, the present tariff differentials being insufficient
    Political will is required to overcome the problem we face. It is comical that we postpone decisions on tough choices and then pray for timely rain doing poojas to the gods.

  • 0
    1

    Ranil S thinks that if you are in an utterly leaky boat, then worrying about another tiny hole is more important than fixing the major leak. It is this sort of unholistic thinking that has led to the tragedy that Sri Lanka is in.
    The major leak (environmental disaster) is the Diesel and Petrol that is spewing out exhaust gases even in farmlands (from tractors) and on water (from boats), but much more intensely on the roads where we burn some 60,000 barrels of fossil fuel a day.
    But Ranil S has no compunction in driving around the land in a petrol vehicle and he has NEVER protested about that. It is more “fashionable” and consistent with TV-celebrity ideology of California (where he says he got his spurs) to fight against coal plants and the port city and any other form of progress. I have now looked thorough Ranil S’s other Colombo Telegraph articles. They are all full of his howling loud against tea plantations or agrochemicals or coal power or the port city etc, but he OFFERS NO ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS and wants to do things as it was done in the “good old days” – that is all. BUT THE BOAT CONTINUES TO LEAK

    Lack of judgment, lack of an over-all view, and lack of a sense of priorities, and a false pride that they have a Ph.D degree are characteristics of those with no wisdom, even when they possess some knowledge.

    • 1
      0

      I’m glad to note that you have studied Dr Ranil Senanayake’s other articles.
      .
      I must confess that I’m out of my depth in all this, but it does look as though a lot of ad hominems are now beginning to be hurled at each other. Since, Mr “Retired CEB engineer”, you are not currently in service, you could reveal your identity. The chances are that in the small circle of scientists and technocrats in the country you would already have been identified.
      .
      I’m glad that Professor S.R.H. Hoole has joined the discussion. Even though his specialisation is somewhat different, he talks common sense. I know that he certainly travels by road bus between Colombo and Jaffna, and is not leaving a huge “carbon footprint” behind. I have not known him long, but I do know him to be very sincere, and a bit too blunt (like me). I have known his elder Historian brother very much longer. Well, Rajan’s no Historian by qualification, but he’s become that after first qualifying as an electrical engineer.
      .
      As for me, I’m best described as a village English teacher – I’ve clearly told you where. I meant it when I said that Ranil wouldn’t remember meeting me once in the nineteen eighties. There’s no pretence in us. We are just aging men who are concerned about what we are going to leave behind for future generations.
      .
      You are now talking a little more clearly than earlier, when you sought to insult the author. Else why switch from familiarly calling him “Ranil” to referring to him as “Mr”. His “Doctorate” is not important when referring to him, but I felt that to be a deliberate insult. As for me, call me anything you please, name clearly given as Panini Edirisinhe, only a First Degree. But Hoole has a DSc (check his Wikipedia entry).
      .
      Now, please talk science – I know little of it.

      • 1
        0

        Sinhala_Man,

        I have read Hoole’s credentials. He has a bachelor’s degree in Electric Power and a Master’s with Distinction in Electric Machines and Power Systems. For his PhD he worked on design methods for the machines that generate our electric power. He has taught power among other things.

        What do you mean when you say “Even though his specialisation is somewhat different, …”?

        If he had not done his doctorate and research leading to his DSc degree in computational methods, would you call his specialization power? Is the specialization of a CEB engineer with ony a bachelor’s degree in power, power?

  • 0
    0

    I said :

    ” you are like the person who argues that ‘another tiny hole’ in a sinking boat is ok as it is leaking a lot from other places ! What an idiot !

    The CEB engineer says :

    “Ranil S thinks that if you are in an utterly leaky boat, then worrying about another tiny hole is more important than fixing the major leak. “

    This shows the grasp this man has on reality .

    This is obviously why we have a crippled energy sector

  • 0
    0

    Thanks, Maduma for a great comment. “Among other things” are the key words there. He is now the unappreciated “Elections Hoole”.
    .
    He was Vice-Chancellor, Jaffna Uni. some years back, the went to Michigan USA where he was a Professor. After things got better in Sri Lanka he returned to Jaffna and tried to be useful. He applied to be a Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering. Rejected. About three years ago Jaffna advertised for a Vice-Chancellor. I can’t rmember all the details – I’m glad that you are a man who checks facts.
    .
    The most promising candidate was Sam Thiagalingam from a University in Boston, USA. Please Google to see what happened.
    .
    As an Elections guuy he was sent to the Maldives for their Presidential Elections on the 23rd September 2018. Please see his report here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-maldivian-parliamentary-elections-2019-where-a-happy-result-can-be-predicted/
    .
    Study that carefully and ask me any further, questions that you have.
    .
    You will know that Hoole has written an article early ths morning. Follow from there; you will se at least one comment from me.
    .
    Hoole is not free to comment on everything, but there is an indication of his views on elections here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/next-presidential-elections-are-the-media-doing-justice-by-the-nation/
    .
    We must all speak out now. Given the fact that we are merely drawing attention to what others have usefullly done, you and I needn’t reveal our identities, but this cowardly rogue, Retired CEB engineer, must do so.
    .
    Thanks again, Madduma.

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