Board shock – wires crossed
CEB infighting comes into the
By Marisa de Silva
The controversial resignation of the Chairman and Vice Chairman
of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) ‘opened up a can of
CEB Chairman Ananda S. Gunesekera who stepped down last week following
disputes with the engineers and the minister had called for an explanation
from the General Manager (GM) Ranjith Fonseka, regarding his trip
to China, in late August, to sign the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) for the Norochcholai Project and to Switzerland in early September
to meet the CEB consultants, without having sought the approval
of the Chairman, said former CEB Vice-Chairman L.C.R. de Silva.
the Board had unanimously decided that Mr. Gunasekera should sign
the MoU and notified the Power and Energy Ministry Secretary, the
Presidential Secretary and the Treasury Secretary of its decision,
Mr. de Silva said the GM had explained that he had apparently been
sent to China, under the authorisation of these three officials.
Furthermore, even with regards to the GM’s trip to Switzerland
(accompanying a team of engineers) he had got his papers approved
by the President and had merely informed the former Chairman of
his plans, rather than request his approval, as was the usual practice,
his return, Mr. Gunasekera as his superior, had sought a clarification
from the GM, regarding why he went overseas on two consecutive occasions,
without obtaining his approval, prior to leaving.
what was most difficult to digest though, was why the Power and
Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha, asked for an explanation from
the former Chairman as to why he questioned the GM on his two trips
overseas. “Now, what’s the necessity for the minister
to get involved in a regular matter of domestic administration,”
questioned Mr. de Silva.
in relation to the MoU itself, which had been signed on August 30,
the Board was only shown a draft of it prior to it being sent to
the Cabinet. In addition, they weren’t shown the revised version
that was eventually passed by the Cabinet, neither were they shown
the MoU, after it had been passed. As of the date of his resignation
on October 10, the Board had yet to see a copy of the MoU, he added.
“Two ugly incidents took place between the GM and myself (on
October 6 and 7), just before I resigned, based on which, I have
called an inquiry,” he said.
incident was as an immediate reaction to serving the GM with a subpoena
(a writ requiring appearance in court to give testimony).
the CEB Engineers Union too had been ‘up in arms’ against
the former Chairman and the Board, stating various grievances affecting
both the members of the union and the CEB.
other was a previous incident where the GM had complained to the
CID that Mr. de Silva was taking unauthorised photographs of the
CEB power plants, when in reality he had been taking photographs
of the fire protection systems in Kotmale, in aid of a disaster
management simulator exercise, being conducted by a British engineer.
However, the CID had dropped the inquiry on the former Chairman’s
explanation of the actual situation, he said. About a month later,
the GM had once again re-opened this case with the Joint Operations
Chief Admiral Daya Sandagiri, who is currently inquiring into the
of everything, the CEB must go ahead with the coal power project,
as we require approximately 4000 MW over the next 10-15 years, to
meet the country’s power needs and coal is the only practical
and feasible alternative source of power generation at our disposal,”
comment on resignations:GM
CEB General Manager Ranjith Fonseka declined comment on the issue
of the resignation of the former Chairman and Vice Chairman of the
“However in my opinion, the engineers are pleased with this
change,” he said. Furthermore, he showered praise on the newly
appointed Chairman, Moksevi Prelis, saying “he has the right
vision for the CEB.”
regard to the Norochcholai Coal Power Project, he said all the technical
planning has been meticulously carried out, excluding one major
component - the need to educate the public on the workings of the
very easy for the public to be misguided by people having vested
interests. Therefore, we plan to carry out public awareness campaigns
over the following few weeks, he said. The Ceylon Electricity Board
Engineers Union (CEBEU) categorically denied that its request to
remove the former Chairman and members of the CEB, was due to the
refusal of the Board to approve some Board Papers on revising certain
allowances. At the last AGM of the CEBEU held on September 2 the
general membership had passed a resolution requesting the Power
and Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha to remove the then Chairman
Ananda S. Gunesekera and Board members, said CEBEU president Rohan
to the resolution, the CEBEU found the former Chairman and the Board
to be a direct threat to the welfare of its membership in particular
as well as the CEB as a whole.
resolution pinpointed certain issues such as the Chairman being
a hindrance to the reform path agreed to by all the stakeholders
in the sector and also being an obstacle in the implementation of
what was arrived at after lengthy deliberations between the stakeholders
and the Government. The negative attitude shown by the Chairman
and the Board members towards the implementation of Norochcholai
Coal Power Project was also mentioned.