Controversial Electricity Bill passed

By Saman Indrajith

The third reading of the Sri Lanka Electricity (Amendment) Bill was passed in Parliament yesterday (09).

120 MPs voted for the second reading of the Bill after a division was called by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella. 36 Parliamentarians voted against.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JNB) voted against the bill. SLFP MPs including MP Maithripala Sirisena were absent. 13 MPs, including Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Prof. Tissa Vitharana and M. L. A. M Athaullah abstained while 55 were absent during voting.

SJB MP Harsha de Silva proposed an amendment to the bill so that tenders need to be called with regard to projects that generates power exceeding 10Mw.

The government opposed this proposal and the SJB MP called for a division. 51 voted in favour of Dr. de Silva’s proposal while 115 voted against.

The third reading was passed without a vote.

During the debate, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera told parliament that spill gates of Randenigala, Rantembe and a few other reservoirs were open by some of the unionists who were on strike.

“The water was released and no power was generated. This means that diesel power plants produced electricity. These people are trying to get rid of the water so that more thermal power plants can operate. We cant allow these unions to hold the country ransom,” he said.

The Minister added that the reservoirs and the power plants need to be provided with security. The generation of electricity had been declared an essential service and the courts have asked CEB Engineers not to disrupt the power supply, Wijesekera said.

“But still these people attempted to disrupt electricity generation. On Thursday those manning the system control unit of CEB tried to trip the system. Earlier this week, I presented a report on the island-wide power outages last year and the report did not rule out human intervention. Because of what they did, we had to have 12 hour power cuts. This inconvenienced everyone. They are trying to do the same here. Some CEB officials depend on the diesel mafia. All MPs and people must come together to stop these people,” he said.

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