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Norocholai Coal Power Station, Sri Lanka

Norochcholai Power Plant is the first Sri Lanka's Coal Power Plant. The implementation of the central is causing several environmental effects and is affecting the livelihoods of the population living in the surrounding area.


Norocholai Power Station is a coal-fired power station in Norocholai, Puttalam, Sri Lanka. The plant, also known as Lakvijaya Power Station, is the Sri Lanka’s largest coal-fired power station.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Norocholai Coal Power Station, Sri Lanka
Country:Sri Lanka
State or province:North Western province, Puttalam district
Location of conflict:Norocholai
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Cement
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Norocholai Power Plant runs to its maximum capacity a quantity of 750,000 metric tons of coal per year for a 300 megawatt generator (phase 1). Considering that there are three generators (300 MW each) the total requirement of coal is be 2,250,000 metric tons per year.

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Project area:93
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1,350,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:about 2000 families
Start of the conflict:1990
Company names or state enterprises:Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) from Sri Lanka
Lanka Coal (Pvt) from Sri Lanka
China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) from China - constructor
Noblel Resources - coal supplier
Relevant government actors:Former Minister of Power and Energy (Pavithra Wanniarachchi)
Ministries of Power and Energy, Finance and Planning,
Defence and Urban Development
Geology Unit of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources Management
Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB)
UNP United National Party
International and Finance InstitutionsExport-Import Bank of China (EXIM Bank of China) from China - financier
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Centre for environmental justice (Sri Lanka)
Puttalam People's Voice (PPV)
All Island General Fisheries Federation
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
Sri Lanka Environmentall Congress
CEB trade unions
National Electricity Consumers Movement
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Other Health impacts
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsproblems due to the exposition to the ash-filled air (discomfort in the eyes, asthma, breath disease, coughs)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Project temporarily suspended
Project implemented. Construction of the power plant took place in 2006
Proposal and development of alternatives:Development of renewable energy systems (wind power, solar power and mini hydro) to face growing local energy need.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The president stopped the construction of the Norochcholai Coal Power plant in 2000 due to unresolved social, environmental as well as technical issues, however the construction of the power plant took place in 2006. To this days the power plant is working and the government is implementing the III phase of the plant.
Sources & Materials

Newspaper article from Ceylon Today. By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody. Norochcholai third phase hits a snag. 6th November 2014
[click to view]

Wikipedia: Lakvijaya Power Station
[click to view]

Newspaper article from Daily mirror. By Hiran Priyiankara Jayasinghe. Norochcholai fisher folk don’t want power line. 18th July 2012
[click to view]

Article from Centre for Environmental Justice. By Hemantha Withanage. Proposed Norochcholai Coal Power plant. Why they opposed? September 2004
[click to view]

Article from Centre for Environmental Justice. By Hemantha Withanage. Coal, renewables and the CO2 meter How Sri Lanka is increasing its Carbon emission? 10th September 2009
[click to view]

Official website of Sri Lanka Ministry of Power and Energy
[click to view] Effects of Norochcholai power plant project
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Newspaper article from The Island. By Dr Janaka Ratnasiri. Coal power – costs, impacts and the future. 28th February 2011
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Newspaper article from Asia News. By Melani Manel Perera. Government impoverishing Norochcholai in order to build a coal power station. 28th November 2007
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Newspaper article from Sunday Times. By Nadia Fazlulhaq. Monsoon blows foul emissions landward, covering crops, houses with ash
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Newspaper article from: Sunday Observer. By Shirajiv Sirimane. Two major development projects from November. 24th October 2010
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Newspaper article from The Sunday Leader.By Rasika Jayakody. PSC Sought On Norochcholai. December 2013
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Newspaper article from: BBC Sinhala, Residents oppose HSZ in Norochcholai, 24th April 2005
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Newspaper article from Huffington Post. By Bob Burton. A New Coal Power Station the Coal Industry Won't Boast About. Posted on 15th September 2014, updated 15th November 2014
[click to view]

Newspaper article from News first. By Melissa Somawardana. Fishermen protest plans to lay electric line across Puttalam estuary. 1st June 2014
[click to view]

Article from Source Watch ( collaborative and specialized enciclopedia by Center for Media and Democracy ( Lakvijaya Power Plant.
[click to view]

Other documents

Fishermen protest plans to lay electric line across Puttalam estuary Fishermen in the Puttalam estuary area staged a demonstration on June 2014 against a project to lay a new electric line from the Norochcholai Power Plant across the estuary. Video by News first
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Centre for Environmental Justice (Colombo, Sri Lanka) and Paola Camisani (EJOLT team, Barcelona)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1848
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