China-funded Port Plan Comes to Halt

Non-ratification of the project within the stipulated three-month period cited as the reason for scrapping the ambitious plan

Published: 19th February 2015 05:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th February 2015 05:59 AM   |  A+A-

COLOMBO:The controversial USD 1.5 billion China-funded and built Colombo Port City Project has finally come to a halt due to a legal hitch.

The Deputy Minister for Investment Promotion and Highways, Eran Wickramaratne, told Express on Wednesday that the agreement on the project signed by the Chinese government-owned China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) and the Government of Sri Lanka under the Strategic Development Plan, has lapsed, because it was not ratified by parliament within the stipulated three-month.

“The cabinet had given the clearance but not parliament. And the deadline for parliament’s approval has passed. The project is thus open to fresh bidding and any party can bid now,” Wickramaratne said.

The Maithripala Sirisena government had been dilly-dallying over the ambitious project to reclaim several hectares of land from the sea and build an ultra-modern commercial-cum-entertainment city. It had raised the environmentalists’ hackles besides throwing up issues over its cost.  

  Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that environmental clearance for the latter could be secured later, and that the current phase of the project could proceed unhindered.

A few days later, another spokesman, L Kiriella, said that the project could not go on in the absence of all the clearances. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe endorsed Kiriella’s stand and added that the matter would be discussed when Sirisena visits Beijing in March.

However, with the discovery of alleged lacuna in regard to the agreement itself, the project has come to a halt, and cannot proceed without being opened to fresh bidding. When it was given to the CCCC, there was no open bidding.

Ex-prez Floats Conspiracy Theory

Colombo: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he was defeated in the January 8 Presidential election by a “conspiracy”. In his message to a huge rally of his supporters in Nugegoda, a suburb of Colombo on Wednesday, Rajapaksa said that he did not consider what happened to him as a “defeat” since it was nothing but the result of a “conspiracy”. “What we are experiencing now is the result of a conspiracy, but not a defeat.,“ he said in a statement.

Magazine Copies Released by Lanka

Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has directed the Customs Department to release copies of an Indian English magazine, which were impounded on January 25,  because it had carried an interview with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran done in 1987. On Wednesday, the Prime Minister’s Office said that the interview in question, published in the magazine’s issue dated February 6, would not pose any threat to national security.

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