President Chandrika Kumaratunga who signed a deal with China to kick start the much delayed and controversial coal power project in Norochcholai is not likely to lay the foundation stone for the project before she steps down from Presidency.
The foundation laying ceremony for the project by President Kumaratunga was scheduled for tomorrow but was put off amidst security concerns, Presidential sources told the Daily Mirror yesterday.
The agreement was signed by China National Machinery and Equipment Import Export Corporation President Xie Biao, and Ceylon Electricity Board General Manager Ranjith Fonseka during President Kumaratunga`s recent visit to Beijing.
The funds amounting to US$ 300 million highly concessionary loan from China came with a 20 year repayment period including a 5 year grace period with a paltry 2% interest rate. The five main projects funded by the loan are Hambantota bunkering and tank farm project, Katunayake Ratmalana express railway, Colombo Katunayake airport, Eppawala phosphate project and the power plant in Norochcholai.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is also not likely to get the cabinet-approved project off the ground before the forthcoming election. The Premier too has been dragging his feet amidst mounting pressure by the area`s Catholic Bishop who said the project would damage the Talawila church.
Among other key development projects that would be inaugurated by the President before the election are the Hambantota port, the opening of the new terminal at the Bandaranaike International Airport.