Delhi to Colombo: Honour pact on India-Japan project

By Easwaran Rutnam

By Easwaran Rutnam

In addition, officials have pointed out that the neighbouring Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) project, a joint venture between China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. and SLPA has not faced similar issues, and the least India and Japan expected was similar treatment from the Rajapaksa government.

The newspaper also noted that pressure from Sri Lankan port workers had led the ruling dispensation in Colombo to take this decision, which is likely to further complicate India-Sri Lanka ties.

Two days after Sri Lanka chose to scrap a 2019 agreement with India and Japan for operating the East Coast Terminal (ECT), Japan says the decision was "unilateral and regrettable".

An Indian government spokesman urged the Sri Lankan government to return to the deal, saying "all sides should continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitment", the Press Trust of India reported.

But India has remained steadfast about the project during high level discussions including last month during a visit by India's Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar.

The state-owned Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) signed a memorandum of cooperation in May 2019 with India and Japan to develop the ECT during the previous Sirisena government.

Relations between Sri Lanka and India hit a new low after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that Sri Lanka will not go ahead with the agreement to jointly manage the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port with India and Japan. The unions took the stand that the proposed deal with India's Adani Group was a sell out of the ECT.

India and Japan would instead be invited to develop the nearby West terminal on a public-private partnership basis, the minutes said, without elaborating.

In Delhi, an official of the Japanese Embassy said the Japanese government was "looking into the details" of the announcement made by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa after a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

It was recently speculated that Chinese intelligence agencies were behind the opposition by trade unions to the ECT deal. Godahewa, who also heads ViyathMaga, a network of academics, professionals and entrepreneurs that played a key role in negotiations between the unions and the government, said: "We volunteered to talk to find an agreeable ground to ensure that any decision would respect Indian interests as well".

ReutersLast week, Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday thanked Prime Minister Modi for providing 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines to the island nation. "It is a win-win solution now", he said, referring to the WCT proposal.

I am shocked by Armie Hammer's scandal
MEITY orders Twitter to block accounts using 'ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide' hashtag