India’s State-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), which plans to build airports abroad, is yet to get the approval of the Indian ministry of external affairs’ (MEA) to develop Sri Lanka’s Palaly airport.
Jayant Sinha, minister of state for aviation, told the Lok Sabha that while AAI had signed a memorandum of understanding with the MEA for preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for developing airports at Kalay in Myanmar and Palaly in Sri Lanka, the ministry is yet to give the required permission.
“The DPR for airport at Kalay has been completed and submitted to MEA. So far, MEA has not given its permission to prepare the DPR for Palaly Airport in Sri Lanka,” Sinha said.
Palaly is located in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna region of northern Sri Lanka, traditionally considered close to India.
With China investing massively in infrastructure in the island nation, the Indian government is also eyeing opportunities to invest in critical infrastructure.
An AAI official, requesting anonymity, said the state-run company hopes to get the clearance of the MEA in the coming months.
“The delay in getting MEA nod is due to the current political climate in Sri Lanka. If the relationship between both countries, which is still sort of fragile, gets stronger in the coming months, we will definitely get a go-ahead to develop the airport,” the official said.
An MEA spokesperson didn’t respond to calls. (Colombo Gazette)