The Indian Oil Corporation will release 6,000 metric tonnes of diesel to Sri Lanka as it pitches in to mitigate the spike in power cuts in the island nation, which is facing an unprecedented economic and energy crisis caused due to shortage of foreign exchange, officials here said on Thursday.
Power cuts lasting over 13 hours came to be in place on Thursday, the longest cut since 1996 when a strike by the state power entity employees caused a 72-hour black out.
The government on Wednesday extended the nationwide daily power cuts from seven hours to 10 due to the non-availability of fuel to generate hydro-electricity.
In a bid to reduce the power cuts, the government has directed the state fuel entity, Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), to purchase diesel from LIOC, the Lankan subsidiary of IOC.
The CEB officials said the LIOC has agreed to release 6,000 MT of diesel to generate thermal power so that the power cuts could be reduced by two hours.
Sri Lanka has been facing a seven-hour power outage since the beginning of the month.
A sudden rise in prices of key commodities and fuel shortage forced tens of thousands of people to queue for hours outside petrol filling stations. All essentials are in short supply due to import restrictions forced by the forex crisis.
India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous USD 500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products.
Economic relief package from India has provided temporary solace.
"A shipment under the Indian credit line will be coming tomorrow (Friday) night. The Ceylon Electricity Board will get fuel from April 2. We can reduce power cuts to some extent after that, Power Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told reporters.
Meanwhile, angry citizens have been holding silent protests across the country for weeks against what they say is the government's mishandling of the economic and fuel crisis.
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