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Sampur Coal Power Plant is an Environmental disaster to Sri Lanka

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The imminent threats to the environment of the proposed 500 MW coalfired thermal power plant to be established in Sampur are grave in concern and are not reversible if commenced. Amidst the vehement opposition by environmentalists and concerned area residents of Sampur, the green light has already been given by the Central Environment Authority (CEA) and other respective bodies to kick start the coal power project in Trincomalee. Accordingly, the construction of the Sampur coal power plant will begin this year as a joint venture of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) of India. However, it is ironical that the approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project has failed to take heed of or foresee the impending environmental damage that could be caused if the second coal power plant was constructed in a location that consisted of a rich marine bio diversity in Sri Lanka. Adding to the gloom and doom, environmentalists point out that the flue gases emitting from the coal power plant would be blown across the North Central Province (NCP) during the North East monsoon. Stating that the majority of the people living in the NCP are already diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CDK), environmentalists warn that the flue gases will react with humidity causing acid rains thus placing the lives of many individuals, animals and the environment in jeopardy.

According to Dr. Ranil Senanyake, Chairman of the Conservationist Group, Rainforest Rescue International and Systems Ecologist

A coal fire power plant on a grid of 500 MW burns roughly about one million to one and a half million tons of coal. It uses about 2.2 billion gallons of water and 146 tons of limestone.

During the 1960’s, Sri Lanka was a true paradise and as a diver back then, Dr. Senanayake has witnessed a rich bio diversity of marine life unequivocal to any part in the world. According to him, Trincomalee Bay contains an enriched marine biodiversity which should be conserved at all cost. It consists of an extremely deep canyon where it is located; a place which brings deep sea organisms almost to the shore. It is known as one of the safest places for tourists to explore the depths of the sea bed unharmed and unafraid. “Since the Mahaweli cuts the trench which has the ability to have cold water at the bottom and warm water at the top, we have a per unit area of bio diversity in Trincomalee unlike in any other place in the world.The bay consists of a deep water bio diversity which extends right up to the shallow water bio diversity. If we allow these people to dump their garbage there and take the cold water from the bay and pump it back as hot water, this will destroy the marine eco system. Another aspect of the marine environment in Trincomalee is the abundance of marine mammals in this region. When the force of the water from Mahaweli River flows down the sea, an up-welling of the cold water is created naturally. It should be understood that when there is a cold water up-welling, nutrients in the water are brought up forming planktonic blooms. Planktonic blooms attract whales in concentrated amounts as can be witnessed in Trincomalee. In case coal ships navigate through this area, ship strikes would be inevitable. Beyond the whales, all those bays could be coral gardens. With climate change coming up now coral bleaching events are going to be more and more common in future. We need to find a sheltered and shaded base if possible so that the corals will have a safe area as refuge where they can be conserved.

Trincomalee is the ideal and perfect place for such an endeavour. However if the water is acidified as the coal power plant would do in near future, it wouldn’t help in protecting the corals. Moreover, a coal power plant that is going to release clouds of smoke into the air will not be the conductive approach towards tourism in Trincomalee. Just for the greed of coal, we cannot let the CEB or the politicians who coax the Indians into this project, go ahead with the Sampur coal power plant project. We, as Sri Lankans should object to this since it is our culture, our history and our nation that are going to be destroyed

Source- Daily Mirror

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