Sri Lankan could still learn from the British!

People forced CEB to change its mind off the cheaper coal plants

Sri Lankan rulers with an exclusive policy and due to lack of professionalism and without a proper national plan made a mess of the country; is evident if one inspect the performance of any of the many state sectors. For example, the state power utility the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) made a wrong decision to go for coal powered electricity generation, at a time many countries were embarking on a plan to phase their coal power plants. In 2010 CEB began operation of these coal power plants in Norocholai on the southern end of the Kalpitiya Peninsula.

In fact, CEB is in a financial crisis today, as no tariff increase has been given to it since tariffs were cut after cheaper coal plants came on line. With new cheaper coal plants blocked by the people, CEB opted to cut power to consumers for few hours on a daily basis. This was done to overcome anticipated power shortage, due to low hydro power generation during dry season. The energy ministry faulted the CEB and a committee appointed to investigate concluded these were not emergency cuts and further found CEB to be responsible for many power cuts in the past.

Earlier, CEB had planned to construct more coal powered electricity generation plants with an exaggeration stating that coal power production is cheaper, taking into account only the cost of coal; while brushing under the carpet the fact that the country has active coal power plants that are a threat to the environment. According to the latest report of the Industrial Technology Institute, with figures of air pollution obtained at a time when only one out of the three power plants were operational, the air pollution thus caused by these power plants have reached critical levels.

Whereas, in Briton it was reported that the powerful electricity producer at Drax power plant in Yorkshire will end all coal generation by next year after almost five decades as one of western Europe’s most polluting power plants; four years ahead of the government’s ban on coal-fired electricity, which comes into force in 2025. This milestone decision was part of its ambition to become a “carbon negative”; a journey away from coal that began some years ago and is going to finish well ahead of the government’s 2025 deadline.

Further the British ‘Brexit’ was on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) following a nationwide referendum in June 2016, in which 52% voted to leave and 48% voted to remain. The British government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017 to begin the ‘Brexit’ process. Though the withdrawal was delayed by deadlock in the parliament following a general election, Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement and the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020.

Where as Sri Lankan are well known for blaming their one time colonial masters the British, for their problems, stating it was their rule that caused this that and the other, divide and rule, etc. But there is no denying that the British arrived in the island like all other colonial rulers before them, for their own benefit than for any love of the natives.

However, there is no denying that the country did benefit under British rule with the introduction of the modern education and a new administrative system. What is more they gave independence to the island for which the natives did not sweat nor spill any blood. Perhaps that was the reason made the elite rulers to pursue an exclusive rule that has got them into mess and nobody else could be blamed for it.

Sri Lanka as Ceylon was a colony of Briton and ironically after seven decades of self rule there are still lessons to be learned from its colonial masters. For if the island nation to return to prosperity, much reforms are needed sooner than latter. But it will be long hard uphill task, possible if all Sri Lankan work as a team under a holistic ruler, perhaps the new President will oblige.