Reports suggest that in an attempt to replace China’s dominating presence in South Asia, India recently offered a grant of $12 million to execute a contract of installing renewable energy systems in three small islands off Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka. A China-based company had won this contract of installing renewable energy systems.
Dullas Alahapperuma, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Power recently said that the Sri Lankan government would consider India’s proposal and a Cabinet paper on the same would be presented by him soon. Some reports suggest that Dullas had said that receiving a grant was an advantage that would ease the burden on the treasury while as per the original project proposal, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan was involved, that would have to be repaid later.
This project was cleared by the Sri Lankan cabinet a month ago, as per the project, hybrid renewable energy systems were to be installed in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu, located in the Palk Bay, some 50 km off Tamil Nadu. The Cabinet on January 18 officially published the project and a proposal to give the contract to Sinosoar-Etechwin Joint Venture in China, with funding from the ADB.
Additionally, citing security concerns, a group of Tamil political parties has raised concerns against China’s involvement in the project. They said that they were not opposed to China but given that India had known security concerns in this regard, and also because the project was to come up very close to Tamil Nadu, they opposed Chinese involvement.
Calling India a long-term friend of Sri Lanka, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislator said that the people of Tamil Nadu had been lending unconditional support to the Tamil cause, so their security, as well as that of India, was very important to them.