Indian power projects replace Chinese ventures in Sri Lanka

Concerns were raised about the proximity of projects to Tamil Nadu.

Concerns were raised about the proximity of projects to Tamil Nadu.

India will set up hybrid energy projects on three islands off Jaffna, replacing the Chinese venture approved by Colombo last year.

The MoU for the project was one of the signatures signed last Monday during a meeting between visiting Foreign Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar and his Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris. It is the third Indian energy project in the north and east of Sri Lanka, following the recent agreements for National Thermal Power Corporation’s solar energy business in the eastern city of Sampur and Adani Group’s renewable energy projects in Mannar and Pooneryn in the north.

In January 2021, the cabinet of Sri Lanka decided to award renewable energy projects in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu and the Analaitivu Islands to the Chinese company Sinosoar-Etechwin, following a competitive bid backed by the Asia Development Bank. India was quick to voice concerns on the Sri Lankan side about the Chinese project that was underway in Palk Bay, just 50 km from Tamil Nadu. New Delhi offered to carry out the same project with a grant rather than a loan. Unable to choose sides for more than a year, Colombo held the project on hold, apparently deterring China. In a recent press conference, China’s ambassador to Colombo offered rare criticisms of the projects being halted for “unknown reasons”, saying it was sending the wrong message to potential foreign investors.

Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar (right) met a delegation from the Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance and was briefed on their recent talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar (right) met a delegation from the Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance and was briefed on their recent talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. † Photo credit: special arrangement

Meanwhile, India and Sri Lanka have also agreed to establish a Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), indicating greater cooperation in the defense sector among neighbors. The initiative, involving Bharath Electronics and a $6 million Indian grant, received cabinet approval last week. India will also help develop fishing ports in Point Pedro, Pesalai and Gurunagar in the Northern Province, and Balapitiya, south of the capital Colombo, in addition to supporting schools in Galle Southern District with computer labs and smartboards, and a grant ​for Sri Lanka’s Unique Digital Identity project, and collaborating in diplomatic training, a statement said.

Gotabaya-TNA Talks

Turning to developments regarding the long-running Tamil issue in Sri Lanka, India has welcomed recent talks between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the largest group of lawmakers elected from the north and east.

Also Read:Sri Lanka’s Tamil MPs seek Prime Minister Modi’s intervention for political solution

In a separate statement released hours after Mr Jaishankar’s meeting with a TNA delegation on Monday, the Indian High Commission said the Tamil leaders informed the visiting EAM of their meeting with Mr Rajapaksa on March 25. political prisoners, land use, missing persons, implementation of the 13th amendment and investments in the diaspora were discussed at the meeting,” the statement said.

Mr Jaishankar discussed the same when he summoned the president, the statement said, without specifying the details of the discussion. The EAM has so far not publicly commented on the Tamil issue or the transfer of power during this visit, while a tweet following its meeting with the TNA said it had “discussed” the realization of Tamil aspirations for equality, justice, peace and dignity. . On his last visit in January 2021, he delivered a strong message to the Sri Lankan leadership that it was in “Sri Lanka’s self-interest” that the expectations of the Tamil people were fulfilled. “The same goes for commitments from the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment,” he told a media conference in Colombo at the time.

Monday’s official statement said Mr Jaishankar welcomed “the positive developments” on the issues on the TNA administration’s agenda, adding that he emphasized that the Government of India “consistently supported” the achievement of the aspirations of the Tamils ​​of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity in the framework of a united Sri Lanka, in addition to continuing development partnership in the region.

At last week’s meeting, the first between the TNA and Mr Rajapaksa since his election in 2019, the government made new commitments to address the long-running concerns of the Tamils, promising to investigate the release of long-held suspects arrested under the widespread government of Sri Lanka. criticized the terrorism law, government land grabs, enforced disappearances and the development of the north and east. However, the government postponed discussing the TNA’s key demand for a political solution through a new constitutional arrangement that would transfer more powers to the provinces. Mr Jaishankar encouraged the TNA to pursue those matters that the government has agreed to address, rather than just waiting for the new constitutional settlement which may take some time, sources present at the discussion said.

The EAM also met Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda and discussed the fishing dispute and the transfer of power, the Indian High Commission statement said.

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