UNDERSTANDING THE DYNAMICS
To keep a check on Chinese r -tivities in the Hambantota Port India decided to focus on two important projects in Sri Lanka – Mattala Airport and Colombo Port project
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport
It has been called “The World’s Emptiest International Airport” due to its low number of flights in ocean region despite the large size of the airport.
But why did Sri Lanka ask India not to go for joint venture for Mattala Airport?
Rajapaksa charged that the previous government headed by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe had sold national assets to foreign governments.
SRI LANKAN PM
COLOMBO PORT PROJECT
The previous government of Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India and Japan to develop the new East Container Terminal (ECT).According to the terms, Sri Lanka holds 5 I % stake while India and Japan share the remaining stake.
REVIEWING THE DEAL
Rajapaksa constituted a committee comprising five senior officials to review the agreement Sri Lanka inked with India and Japan in May 2019 for development of the deep-sea container terminal.
The move came after the workers of the Port in Colombo, Sri Lanka staged a stir and threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the government allowed any foreign country to develop the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT).
SET BACK FOR INDIA
With Mattala airport deal already gone, if the Colombo Port deal get stalled as well it will be a huge cause of worry for India
THE LARGER PICTURE
A possibility exists that perhaps China is using tactics to make sure India and Japan don’t get a foothold in Sri Lanka
“We heard that there is a lot of pressure globally from India over this project. But we are not a province of India, we are a sovereign nation and we do not need to dance to their tunes:’ said Shyamal Sumanarathna, secretary of the Ports, Commerce Industries and Progressive Workers Union.
POINT TO NOTE
However, it is important to note that Sri Lanka has turned to China several times for bailouts when the country went down on lockdown for two months amid the Covid- 19 pandemic.
Beijing (China) further granted USD 500 million to Colombo to fight the Covid-19 pandemic to help the looming financial crisis.