By S. Rubatheesan
India has lodged a strong protest with Sri Lanka on the award of a tender to a Chinese company to set up three renewable energy projects in outlying islands off the Jaffna peninsula.
The protest, the Sunday Times learnt, came even before the Cabinet of Ministers decided not to give India and Japan the East Container Terminal in the Colombo Port. This also provoked a strong protest from India.
The protest was triggered by the Department of Information releasing the decisions of the Cabinet. The renewable energy project was approved by the Cabinet on January 18.
Diplomatic sources said India’s protest was on the grounds that such a move would raise security concerns for it. The islands concerned are the Delft Island, Analativu and Nainativu. The sources said the islands, separated by the Palk Strait from India, were in close proximity to India’s coast.
The Delft Island is only 48 kilometers away from the Indian coastal town of Rameshwaram.
The energy project’s local partner, the Ceylon Electricity Board, has finalised matters related to the project by identifying lands for the joint venture with Etechwin of China. The funds for the project are to come from the Asian Development Bank.
The US$ 12 million project has been awarded to MS/Sinosar-Etechwin Joint Venture in China.
The award to the Chinese company was recommended by the Cabinet-Appointed Standing Committee on Procurement.
Under the project, international competitive bids were called to instal hybrid renewable energy systems in the three islands utilising the accessible energy resources to improve the efficiency of the prevailing energy network.