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Sri Lanka-China pact on power project

[Hindu, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 07:02 No Comment]

Sri Lanka and China on Monday signed an agreement on the second and third stages of the $891-million Norochcholai Coal Power 600 MW Project. Meanwhile, local media reported that the Jathika Hela Urmaya (JHU), a constituent of the ruling combine, had threatened to withdraw from the government if it implemented the 13th Amendment and gave police powers to provinces.

The Information Department said phase two and three of the Norochcholai project would be completed by 2013.

The 300-MW first stage commenced in 2006 and is to be completed next year. The Chinese government facilitated long-term loans at a low interest rate for implementation of the project.

Power and Energy Minister John Senevirathna said the government was keen on importing sophisticated coal power infrastructure to minimise environmental hazards and that the project would be 98.8 per cent environmentally efficient, reducing the risk of pollution to mere 1.2%.

Separately, in its latest travel warning, the U.S. warned American citizens travelling to or living in Sri Lanka about the potential for continued instability, including possible terrorist attacks.

“On May 19, 2009, the Sri Lankan government announced that it had achieved victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Despite the conclusion of hostilities, remnants of the insurgency group remain.

The government of Sri Lanka’s security posture remains heightened,” the travel advisory said.

It said American citizens of Sri Lankan-origin may be subject to additional scrutiny upon arrival and while in the country and in some cases foreigners of Sri Lankan origin may be detained without their embassy being notified.

“The activities of journalists, researchers, aid workers, and volunteers receive particular attention. The government of Sri Lanka encourages Sri Lankan citizens to report foreigners who are suspected of carrying out activities not consistent with the national interest and/or their visa category,” it said.

Responding to the warning, Colombo expressed disappointment and said it is was part of U.S. strategy to undermine the country.

“The advisory, issued by the U.S. State Department on Friday, demonstrates the sheer lack of understanding of the ground situation by the authors as the LTTE has been comprehensively defeated,” said Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona.

In another development, TamilNet reported: “A group calling itself ‘Tamil Front Protecting the Country’, allegedly linked to a paramilitary group operating with Colombo, issued Saturday a notice titled ‘Final Warning’ to Uthayan Tamil daily office in Jaffna warning that Uthayan staffers will be killed if they do not officially relinquish their posts with effect from 30 June 2009.

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