Dark Side Of Norocholai Skin Disease


“Sustainable Development”, this term has been becoming more and more popular among global community since 1992 Rio summit. To reach the target of sustainable development, environmental conservation is more important to be implemented. To conserve the environment, there should be more environmental friendly policy plans. Industrial aspect of the world is developing continuously and to cope with increasing energy need, production of energy is increased. Traditionally, the energy need of the world was fulfilled by burning hydrocarbons as fuels.With the time many environmental problems like global warming, acid rains and etc., arisen.And researchers found that main reason for such eco hazards was a burning of hydrocarbons, including coal, liquid fuel species and etc. Then world has been moving towards sustainable energy sources to fulfill energy amid those sources solar energy, wind power, hydro power plants can be considered as the prominent. The concept of coal power plants is gradually fading away from the global stage, because of its disastrous nature towards environment.

Sri Lankan Context

In Sri Lanka,the first and foremost source of energy is hydropower. As a concept of D.J .Wimalasurendra, at 1950 Laxapanahydro power plant was commissioned as Sri Lanka`s first hydropower plant.Since that time Hydro Power Plants has been developed through the ages of Mahaweli Throughout decades, hydropowers afforded the weight of above 80-90% power supply of the country. However with the time, everything has changed. According to current statistics details,

‘In previous year, total power generation capacity of the country was 4,018 MW, consisting of 1,384 MW of coal power, 1,215 MW of oil burning thermal power, 1,384 MW of hydro power and 519 MW of non-conventional renewable power sources including hydropower ,wind power and etc.”

It’s worthy to take a look on how such a change was happened. With the time demand for power supply was increased. It became difficult to establish any more hydro power plants because of geographical reasons and governments had to stablish thermal power plants with a help of private sector and some thermal power plants were purely owned by private sector, who sold energy to the government for higher prices. To face this, power mafia previous government had to search for alternatives. Unfortunately, the alternative what they found was really a harmful and bad one. Policy makers of that time only thought about the financial profits without considering over any environmental or culturalhazards, theychoose “coal power plants” as an alternative. That created a massive public protests at the Norocholai area where they initiated the project at 2006.Civil society and environmental organizations strongly criticized that decision to establish a coal power plant in Norocholai-the environmentally and culturally sensitive area. But, rulers behaved like dictators and they started the construction procedure and finished it at 2011, without considering the public opinion. There were and there are too many allegations over corruption, financial crimes related with this project. Many experts in the field accused that the technology which was used for it was not suitable. Afterstarting, the power generations from 2011, many breakdowns of the power plants has been occurred. Technical errors can be repaired by technicians. But if it cause to effect to the health of the residents of area, it can be considered as terrible. Since the beginning of this month, some unidentified skin disease has been spreading among the children of the nearby area to the power plant and there have been many complaintsover respiratory problems, lungissues, kidney disorders and all such phenomena.This can be considered as a red light of warning regarding this nonstandard coal power plant. No matter whatever the country is, coal power plants are totally a source of environmental and health hazards.

How it happens?

Basically from three ways, coal power plants are contributing to pollute an environment.

Solid Waste

Typically a coal power plant releases tons of ashes per day as sludge. There were serious allegations to Norocholai regarding that there is no mechanisms to store it in safe manner and dispose. Those harmful particles can mix up the wind and cause various diseases related with respiratory system from going through to lungs of nearby residents. We can see that phenomena in Norocholai.Harmful chemical elements like Arsenic,Chromium,Mercury and Cadmium can be included in this sludge and diseases related with those elements will spread …And these harmful elements can influence to the nervous system of the human and will pave the way for memory related neurological disorders.


Cooling Water Discharge

Billions of gallons of water are used in cooling system of power plant. This water is generally four to five Celsius hotter than normal water. Whenever, this water release to any water resource, marine life of particular resource becomesthreatened.Technically what is happening is, heartrates of fish are influenced and their lives become a risky condition.In this year February,NARA institute emphasized that they were highly concern whether polluted water had been disposed to nearby sea from, Norocholai power plant.


Heat Waste

Considerable percentage of heat produced by thermal power plants is wasted clearly.Above all the things, gas emissions like Sulphur Dioxide and Carbon Dioxide can cause to the global and warming and acid rains. In Sri Lanka we have not experienced acid rains yet. But, in future, perhaps we have to face that experience also.Former rulers, who did such destruction to country now behaving, like saints.

Meanwhile North Western Province Environmental Authority is emphasizing that Norocholai power plant has not taken environmental license for year 2017 to continue their operations.

Currently, from Norocholai,we are taking around 1000 MW power generation. Anyonecan’t suggest it to be closed suddenly, because it can effect really badly to national power supply of the country.

But, there should be no other coal power plants in Sri Lanka in future.The Environmental Foundation Limited (EFL), along with other experts and organizations, filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) Application, against this proposed coal power plant in Sampur, Trincomalee and government promised in Supreme Court that it will never be constructed in a country.

Power and Energy need is a one of the main need of a country.Sri Lanka has a rich potential of renewable power supplies. But in contrast how far we get advantages from these potentials?Hambantota wind power plant only producing 3 MW electricity and while The only operational commercial-scale solar-powered facility is the Buruthakanda Solar Park of 1.2 MW, operated by the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority (SLSEA).There have been many projects to develop the utilization of renewable energy in this country, but many of them have not been implemented yet. Time has come to end the thermal and coal era and go forwardto the era of renewable energy. Government’s decision to establish a wind power plant is good and should be appreciated. There are  sensitive environmental issues related with that according to EER which was released recently. Constructive criticisms are needed. But all the stakeholders should support to do such relatively eco-friendly projects without behaving like devil`s advocates.