A recent audit report from the National Audit Office sheds light on the questionable expenditure of 2,373.32 million rupees in a power generation project aimed at averting minor disruptions in electricity production. The report discloses that the purchase of 50 containerized diesel generators failed to meet its objectives, resulting in operational issues and defects.
Under the initiative, 50 containerized diesel generators, 25 containerized transformers, and 25 containerized fuel tanks with a 50 MW capacity were procured at a cost of 2,373.32 million rupees. The estimated project cost was 3,000 million rupees, and the audit report indicates that the entire amount was paid to the contractor, inclusive of a 10 percent contract value.
The project’s stated purpose was to ensure continuous electricity service at the regional level during emergency breakdowns of the national electricity system. Despite these intentions, the audit revealed a failure to achieve the project’s objectives.
Operational issues such as industrial defects, fuel and lubricant shortages resulted in the diesel generators running for 52,452 hours from January to September 2019, 36,120 hours in 2021, 57,320 hours in 2022, and facing 35,345 hours of downtime since July of the current year.
The audit further highlights the absence of a feasibility study before the purchase and points out that the machines’ performance is below the desired level, indicating defects.
The project proposal, initiated on April 25, 2016, following a power outage in the Polonnaruwa area, lacked inclusion in the Ceylon Electricity Board‘s comprehensive plan, including the action plan, long-term generation plan, or procurement plan. The contract for diesel generators was approved by the Council of Ministers during the last good governance government on November 16, 2017, with the procurement acceptance letter issued subsequently on January 17, 2018.