The Indian Government has refused to be part of talks between Sri Lanka and a private Indian company to develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) of the Colombo Port.
Cabinet co-spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters today that the Indian Government has officially informed the Sri Lankan Government that it will not be involved in the discussions underway between the private Indian company on the WCT development joint venture.
Responding to questions raised by journalists over the Indian Government’s withdrawal from the discussion, Minister Gammanpila explained that the Indian Government had nominated Adani Group of Companies to invest in the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port.
Thereafter, the Sri Lankan Government had made a policy decision to develop the ECT through the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. It was later decided to develop the WCT of the Port as a joint venture between Sri Lanka, India, and Japan, he said.
Minister Gammanpila said at a time when the Sri Lankan Government had made a decision with regard to the WCT, the Indian Government had nominated the Adani Group as the investor for the ECT.
He explained as it was the same investment but a change of location, the Government of Sri Lanka had assumed that India would go through with the nominated investor and had continued discussions with the Adani Group of Companies for the development of the WCT.
The Sri Lankan Government had assumed that the Indian Government would continue with the same nominated investor for the WCT development and had hence continued the discussions with the Indian company, Minister Gammanpila said.
The cabinet co-spokesman said however, the Indian Government has announced it will officially withdraw from the ongoing discussions.
He said despite this announcement, the Sri Lankan Government will continue discussions with the Adani Group of Companies on the joint venture to develop the West Container Terminal of the Colombo Port.
When inquired if Sri Lanka was comfortable with conducting discussions with a private Indian company without the involvement of the Indian Government, Minister Gammanpila said the Government of Sri Lanka has already commenced discussions on the joint venture.
When pointed out that the Adani Group operates several ports in India at present, the Minister said the WCT is not a strategic Port, as that of the ECT.
He said the ECT is strategically positioned and is capable of conducting back to back operations, due to which it cannot be jointly developed with foreign nations.
Minister Gammanpila said Ports officials and the forces believe due to the strategic positioning of the ECT, joint ventures could pose security threats to Sri Lanka.
He said however, as the WCT is not strategically positioned, developing it under a joint venture with Adani Group of Companies which also operates several ports in India, is not a conflict of interest.
Clarifying the two statements made by India and Sri Lanka on the joint venture, the Minister explained that the Indian Government had not made a nomination for the Wester Container Terminal, but had only nominated Adani Group of Companies for the East Container Terminal.
He said due to a policy change on the ECT, the Sri Lankan Government has decided to continue with the Indian Government’s nominee for the ECT, as the investor for the joint venture on the WCT.
When inquired if the Japanese Government had nominated an investor for the joint venture, Minister Udaya Gammanpila said the Sri Lanka Ports Authority has requested for a nominee, and he is yet to receive details on the progress in this regard. (Colombo Gazette)