electricity      The much-delayed India-aided power project at Sampur in Trincomalee district in Eastern Sri Lanka is to commence in July this year.

The Minister for Power, Pavithra Wanniarachchi said on Monday (22) that preliminary construction work would begin in July and the plant would be commissioned in 2016. India and  Lanka would each contribute $150 million. The balance of $300 million would be sought from global financial institutions.

The $600 million, 500 MW coal fire power plant, which is a joint venture of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board has been plagued by issues right from the time India and Sri Lanka agreed to set up the plant in 2006.

India wanted the plant to be at China Bay near the Trincomalee harbour due coal for it having to be brought by sea, whilst Sri Lanka wanted it to be at Sampur as it wanted Sampur to be developed as a Special Economic Zone.

Locating the plant at Sampur meant displacing a part of the local Tamil population, and Tamil parties objected and pressurised India not to agree to the location of the plant there, but gave into the Lankan government, as Indian intransigence might have led to the Chinese moving in.

The last hurdle was the Power Purchase Agreement.

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