Puttalam power plant: coal dust and erosion stoke villagers’ ire
Residents living in the vicinity of the Lak Vijaya Power Station, also known as the Norochcholai Power Station, say the power plant is causing serious environment and health problems. The large coal-fired power station is in Puttalam, in the northwest coastal area of Sri Lanka. About 1,000 families live in Illanthan- diya and Narakkaliya, villages near the power station. Three hundred of these families de-pend on fishing for a livelihood.
The fishing community says sea erosion has increased since the plant was set up and was reducing the land area they occupy, according to Rural Fisherfolks Association secretary R. Sanjiva Fernando.
The plant’s two jetties have dramatically reduced the shore area, says R. Thissera, a fisherman. “Our houses are threatened, while the presence of the jetties has forced us to keep their boasts in the children’s playground,” he said.
Mrs. E. Dabarera, who has three children, said the fisher families’ houses that were paid for with bank loans have been “ruined by the erosion.”
Rash development projects are driving the fisher folk into the sea, said Kalpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha UNP member Nalin Thissera. A Coast Conservation Department official said an scientific study was necessary before saying the jetties were the cause of coastal erosion. A feasibility study was conducted before the plant was commissioned, he said. A sand-fill would be better than building a moat. A post-study on the jetty construction is due, he added.
Coastal erosion is not the only complaint. Layers of coal dust are settling on homes and cultivable land, undermining cultivation and posing a health and environmental risk, the villagers say. The winds deposit coal dust on crops, including red onions and chilies. Farmer Wasantha Kumara, 27 years, said wind-blown coal dust was smothering his eight acres of cultivated tobacco land. S. Gunasekera owns two acres of land, and coal dust has destroyed his crops of paddy, cabbage and other vegetables, he said.
Mohamad Pirudosia, 40, said the coconut trees and palmyrah palms on his land are equally “threatened” by the clouds of coal dust. Many feared for their health from inhaling coal dust.
Lak Vijaya Power Station general manager Saliya Pandithe-rathne said all efforts would be made to minimise the negative impact of the power plant.
comments powered by Disqus