In order to raise awareness of the effects of living in proximity to a coal power plant, EFL organized a visit to Norochcholai for 36 villagers from Sampur on the 28th of March, with the aid of Green Trincomalee Movement. The purpose of this event was to facilitate the direct exchange of information between two communities, so that community members of Sampur would benefit from firsthand knowledge of the adverse impacts of coal power.
The Sampur villagers visited the boundary of the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant, where they met with farmers whose crops were directly affected by the power plant. The villagers were able to observe the massive heaps of coal and fly ash that were completely exposed. At this point, the farmers stated that during the monsoon seasons, winds blew coal dust and fly ash which affected their crops and water supply. The farmers also mentioned that they had received compensation from the CEB on one occasion, and that they had experienced a decline in income.
In order to understand the impacts of coal power plants on other livelihoods, EFL arranged a meeting with members from the local Fisherman’s Society, which was held on Ilanthanai beach in the vicinity of the power plant jetty. The fishermen expressed their grievances with the power plant, noting how the hot water released from the plant as well as the movement of coal dust and fly ash had resulted in a depletion of fish stock. They mentioned that they were denied access to previous fishing grounds by the navy due to the power plant and that the shoreline had been eroded since the establishment of the plant.
In addition to voicing their concerns to the media present, members of the local community informed Sampur representatives that the CEB had made many promises before commencing construction, including the provision of free electricity, buildings for schools and paved roadway, but the people of Norochcholai have yet to receive any of these benefits.
By enabling the people of Sampur to witness the disastrous impacts created by a coal power plant, EFL hopes that these residents will be better equipped to campaign against the Sampur Coal Power Plant.