Millennium Post

Sri Lankan government yet to take a final call on Chinese port city project

Sri Lanka on Friday said it is yet to take a final call on the $1.5 billion Colombo Port City project funded by China, a day after it said that controversial venture would go ahead as planned.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament that the government had noted deficiencies in the environmental impact assessment report.

“Therefore to inquire into this, we have appointed a separate committee. In addition to that under my chairmanship we have appointed a cabinet sub committee. After getting reports we will take a decision,” he said.

Wickremesinghe was questioned by a Marxist JVP lawmaker who said that during the presidential election campaign, the Chinese port city project was criticised by the then opposition.

The Cabinet spokesman and minister Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said the government had decided to go ahead with the the 1.5 billion dollar project. The Colombo Port City project is being seen as the single largest private sector development ever in the country.

The port, expected to play a key role for China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Road project in India’s backyard, is being seen as the single largest private sector development ever in the island.

The project, would allow China Communication Construction Co. Ltd, a Chinese government-owned infrastructure builder, to hold land in a high-security zone within close proximity to the Colombo port.

In the run-up to the last month’s pressidentail elections, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe criticised the mega investments by China, stating that they were taken at high rates of interest and deeply indebted Sri Lanka. The project envisages reclaiming of 230 of water front to be developed as a port city with roads, water, electricity, communication facilities to set up shopping areas, water sports area, mini golf course, hotels, apartments, recreation areas and marinas.

In September last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the construction of the project, part of China’s attempt to restore its ancient prestige and historical links along the maritime Silk Road through Southeast and South Asia.



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