Mahaweli Authority’s Deputy Director-General of Technical Services and the head of Water Management Secretariat, engineer Nilantha Dhanapala has told that the Mahaweli Authority released water from the Rantambe and Randenigala reservoirs with permission from the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB).
The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers’ Union denied any involvement in opening the sluice gate of Rantambe or any other hydro reservoirs, adding that the Mahaweli Authority has the sole say to release the repository of large reservoirs.
CEB spokesman, Andrew Navamuni was asked if the CEB engineers said that the Ceylon Electricity Board bears no responsibility for the costs incurred on the national economy as a result of water being released from hydropower generation reservoirs, forcing the Government to purchase electricity from private power companies at exorbitant prices, he said,
“For whatever reason that the Mahaweli Authority opened the sluice gates or flushed out water from bottom outlets of the reservoirs for cleaning or agriculture purposes, or regulation of water in the reservoirs, we have no part in it,” he said.
When questioned if he meant that the Mahaweli Authority, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, and the Irrigation Department had no role with the Ceylon Electricity Board in determining hydro reservoir operating functions, such as sluice gate opening, he said, “We discuss with them daily.”
“However, we have no legal standing over the opening of sluice gates as such, for specific reservoir water storage and release operations,” he said.
Director of the Water Management Panel, Engineer Dhanapala said they released the water for irrigation and agriculture purposes with the CEB agreeing to it.
They agreed to it at the weekly Water Management panel discussions.
“The CEB did not generate hydro power during the time,” he said.
“It is my responsibility to regulate water for irrigation and agriculture purposes. We do so with due concern for the CEB’s hydropower generation needs,” he said, adding, “That is why the there is a Water Management panel as an independent body. The CEB, the Irrigation Department, the Water Board and the Mahaweli Authority are its partners.”
CEB engineers were asked whether they were preparing a report on the sluice gate opening following Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekara’s directions. The minister had earlier said he would call on the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the matter.
“We will provide him with a report,” an engineer said.
Asked why CEB Chairman Ferdinando had not responded so far on the matter, the CEB spokesman said, “It may be due to the CEB having nothing to do with it.”
Our attempts to contact Power and Energy Minister Wijesekara and the CEB Chairman failed.
The minister had named recent activities by some CEB trade unions and a few others as ‘electricity terrorism’.