South Asia

Published: Saturday 30 September 2006

Power to the people: The Sri Lankan government has started working on a five-year national plan on power and energy development to provide quality service at cheaper rates and to solve the country's power crisis.

Under the plan, construction of the first natural gas-fired power plant with a 300 MW-capacity will begin at Kerawalapitiya and work on a diesel-fired power plant with similar capacity will also be initiated. According to a ministry statement, both plants will be completed by 2008. Under the plan, the government will also tap alternative sources of electricity to shift the heavy dependence on diesel-powered electricity, which accounts for 60 per cent of total generation. The heavy dependency on diesel has triggered concern over a possible power crisis, particularly due to the increasing crude oil prices in the world market. Once the projects are completed, the power and energy ministry plans to sell a unit of electricity at Rs 5 instead of Rs 7.40 as of now. The ministry has also decided to provide electricity to at least 5 per cent of the remote areas using solar power.

India blamed: As Nepal reels under devastating floods, which have killed at least 27 people and rendered thousands homeless, the country is now blaming India for all its woes. The issue was recently raised in Nepal's parliament, where legislators said dams built by India in border areas are responsible for the large-scale inundation. The legislators told the house that the Laxmanpur barrage on the river Rapti, built by India, allegedly in contravention of international norms, has contributed to the deluge. They have urged the foreign ministry to take up the issue with India. Speaking to the House, Nepal's minister for physical planning and works, Gopal Man Shrestha, however, said rescue work is being done in tandem with Indian authorities. The sharing of water resources has been a bone of contention between the two neighbours with Nepal often accusing India of unilateral construction and reneging on its commitment to provide water for irrigation. Several hydropower projects discussed by the two sides have also remained stalled due to continued bickering.

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