Colombo, March 2 (DailyMirror) – The reported remark made by Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa at Monday’s cabinet meeting, saying that the power crisis would be resolved after March 5 has raised serious questions within the government as to how he would do it when diesel and petrol stocks have reached a bare minimum.
Senior political sources told Daily Mirror last evening that presently Sri Lanka only had stocks of petrol to last for seven days and diesel to last for four days. However, a shipment of fuel is expected to reach Colombo today but even with these stocks, fuel will be available only for a further one week.
Presently due to the limited supply of fuel in the country, the Energy Ministry has issued instructions to supply fuel in limited stocks to all the fuel stations in the country leading to the long queues.
Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila has also issued a directive not to fill fuel for more than Rs.3,000 per person.
This is after complaints were received that frustrated consumers were overfilling fuel in cans and bottles to ensure they have sufficient fuel to run their daily errands.
With the fuel supply in such a catastrophic state due to the lack of dollars to clear shipments, the power crisis is only to worsen this month – far from it being resolved as mentioned by Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
Reiterating the Finance Minister’s comment, Power Minister Gamini Lokuge also informed the media yesterday that there will be an uninterrupted power supply to the public after March 5.
Lokuge said the President had advised him to take immediate measures to provide a continuous electricity supply and therefore, the ministry was taking measures to get additional fuel stocks to run the thermal power plants that have already stopped.
However, senior sources within the CEB told Daily Mirror that with the lack of fuel supplies and with water used up in the reservoirs, plants were unable to function at full capacity.
The hydropower plants which usually comes into full capacity during drought periods of March, April and May, had been functioning since last year and may soon come to a halt.
Further with the lack of water, a possible food shortage might also arise due to the non-availability of water for irrigation.
Some power plants have already stopped functioning, while all power plants presently could not service any of their machines due to the non-availability of fuel.
With the present crisis, CEB engineers said the current power cuts will rise to 10 hours by mid-march in most of the areas and soon power supplying times may be released.
CEB engineers said that rains and continuous fuel supplies were the only way to avert the power crisis in the country. Meanwhile, despite attempts to contact Minister Basil Rajapaksa, he was not available for an immediate comment last evening. (Jamila Husain)