The Delft, Analativu and Nainativu islands in the Palk Strait near Jaffna were approved to be used for this project by the Cabinet on January 18. The Hindu reported that India is concerned about the government’s decision on this “Establishment of a Hybrid Renewable Energy System” project. An Indian company has also submitted a tender in the first round for the project, but it was rejected by the Procurement Committee.
Thereafter, the Government of India has agreed to donate the entire amount required for this project to Sri Lanka.
Response from India
Our attempt to contact External Affairs Ministry Secretary Jayanath Colombage to inquire whether India has responded diplomatically in this regard was unsuccessful, and an Additional Secretary to the Ministry stated that India has not yet officially responded regarding the project.
Former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India and former Secretary to the President Austin Fernando says the project will have a decisive impact on Sri Lanka-India relations and is understandable and not surprising.
Oblivious to government agencies!
However, no approval has been obtained from the Public Utilities Commission or the Central Environmental Authority for this project and no official notification has been issued to them. Approval from the Public Utilities Commission is mandatory for such an energy project.
The project is funded by the Asian Development Bank and is co-sponsored by Etequin, a Chinese company and the Ceylon Electricity Board. This US $ 12 million project has also been approved by a Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee and the ruling party states that all the procedures in this project are in accordance with the procurement methodologies of the country.
Experts in the field say that the Cabinet approval to carry out a Chinese project close to India would raise serious diplomatic issues, as India has officially stated that they are seriously considering losing the Eastern Terminal of the Colombo Port.
Delft Island is located 48 km off the coast of Rameshwaram in India. Earlier, India had officially protested against China’s involvement in a housing project in the North and the arrival of a Chinese submarine at the Port of Colombo.
Responding to a query, Minister of Power and Energy, Dullas Alahapperuma said that this project which is introduced as a permanent solution to the power crisis in the Northern Islands, is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). He said the Chinese company had qualified under a competitive tender system.
The minister confirmed that India has acceded to donate the cost of the project as a donation. However, the government has not yet taken any decision in this regard and it should be discussed with the Asian Development Bank, he added.