Sri Lanka has expressed a wish not to ‘hurt’ neighbouring India by opting to go with a gas-fired power plant instead of the coal facility initially planned.

India was to build a 500 MW coal-fired power plant to assist Sri Lanka in building up its power capacity following the worst power blackout to affect the country in two decades.
Maithripala Sirisena and Narendra Modi
The eastern port city of Trincomalee will now host a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant, a cabinet minister said late on Tuesday, with evidence that environmental protest had influenced the change of heart.

Reuters reports that President Maithripala Sirisena told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the decision at a meeting on Saturday during Sirisena’s visit to the island nation’s larger neighbour.

“We do not want to hurt India. So President Sirisena in his visit has offered an LNG plant instead of the coal plant,” Chandima Weerakkody, Sri Lanka’s petroleum minister, told the news agency. “This has been discussed at the highest level and there is consensus.”

B.M.S. Batagoda, the energy ministry secretary said the switch to LNG was proposed after ten years of opposition to a coal-fired power plant by the residents of Sampur, a village near Trincomalee, where India has already proposed to build South Asia’s largest petroleum hub.

Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal, but there would be the added hurdle that Sri Lanka has no LNG import infrastructure.

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