The Power Game: How we get bluffed.
Posted on October 30th, 2023

Garvin Karunaratne Director at Center for Global Poverty Alleviation

In my endless travels in countries in three continents, the only country where wind turbines have been continuously sited in the coastal areas happens to be Sri Lanka. In Lanzorette in the Canaries, firstly the authorities built two turbines on the coast, but later they realized their mistake and built up dozens of turbines inland, on their hills.  In Spain and in the USA where I frequently undertake road travel, I have seen them using the mountain power of the wind to turn their turbines.  There are hundreds , even thousands of wind turbines located on mountains.

Sri Lanka  are the losers. While countries like Spain have harnessed the mountain wind power and even sell power to France, Sri Lanka lags behind. Last year, being inquisitive,  I purpously went to Kalpitiya to spend a night to assess the wind power there. It was nothing other than a coastal breeze.  I have in the Administrative Service  worked for long periods  in Hambantota and Matara and know the power of the coastal breeze. It is nothing compared with what I have experienced at Ramboda, ,at Madugoda, at Kadugannawa in my almost weekly visits when I  worked in Nuwara Eliya, Kegalla and Kandy. That was on the road side. In my irrigation inspections climbing hill and dale, I know that  the wind has an enormous power at certain vantage points. We have had to crawl on all fours to avoid being blown off. When I stayed a night at the Ohio Forest Circuit bungalow I was  worried  that my car would be blown over. Yet we keep building turbines on the coast, and this time it is at Mannar! I gather that some foreign experts are  sought to find our wind power.  These days not only foreign experts, but even the infamous IMF acted clandestinely to make our countries indebted. The IMF told us to import freely, use foreign exchange freely  when we did not have and fed us with loans to match,  so that we became indebted. They even gave us loans at very low interest and also with long no payment grace periods to entice us and our then leaders jumped at getting loans as they would not be in office when repayment would haunt us.  My latest book, How the IMF Sabotaged Third World Development” on Kindle tells that sad story.

May our leaders find the time to read John Perkin’s book Confessions of an Economic Hitman, where he admits that his role as a foreign expert was to research, fabricate facts and figures  to provide foreign aid to Ecuador for a plan that in some manner will send the aid funds back to the donor countries while at the same time leaving the host country indebted.  AId now came to our countries to make us indebted so that we could forever be in debt, paying our loans. Someone is trying to prove that wind power is not worthwhile  and that we cannot get power. Of course we cannot get power unless we harness the wind at the spots where the wind power is . And to find where the wind is most we now get foreign experts. Why can we not rely on our own government officers who sometimes get blown off on their circuits.

In  wind turbines, we are made to grope in the dark. We turned wind power at some figure like twenty five rupees a kw/hr,    when the USA gets  wind power at between five cents  and two and a half cents a  kw/ hour.. When recently some wind power makers offered us power at fifteen rupees our mandarins were surprised.

Recently Power Expert, my friend  Tilak Siyambalapitiya has said that we are heading for power cuts in 2017.

All what I have said on my wind power writings yet stand true These articles are in Lanka Web , the Daily News and Asian Tribune for anyone interested to read
We need only a few hundred wind turbines sited at  Ramboda, Madugoda, Ritigala, Batalgala in Kegalla District, at Kirigalpotta in Ratnapura and Hayes in Matara. We should set up a Land Development Department” once again and appoint an officer of the calibre of   J.V.Fonseka, a classic hons. Civil servant and the task can be easily done in a year. That was the manner that our leaders, D.S. and Dudley worked then. At a Government Agents  Conference a G.A. had requested for a jeep per District to speed up the Food Production Campaign. Dudley ordered three jeeps per district. Later I was a chief lieutenant under JVF at Agrarian Services and we constructed large stores in without the recent long delays seen in construction in the public sector at inflated prices. One engineer and Land Development Officer M.P.Jayasinghe recruited as Assistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services  did that trick.  We in the Districts went around with a hammer to hit at concrete to see whether the concrete  mixture was right.  One contractor had to redo all the foundations. It was a blow that made his business tremble but it did . This happened in Anuradhapura.

A few hundred  wind turbines is the answer and  I am sure there will be able officers in the Administrative  and Engineering Services who can do that task. It will be a Program that offers employment to thousands. We can say goodbye to power cuts and see our workers  at work on hillocks installing wind turbines.  We will also save millions of dollars that we spend today for importing oil.

Garvin  Karunaratne

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