It looks like India's concerns about the Chinese in Sri Lanka are here to say. A cabinet decision in Sri Lanka said it would permit the construction of the 1.5 billion dollar port city deal with China.
This comes as a rude shock and surprise to India which had expected that portion of the deal would be scrapped. Even the newly elected government in Sri Lanka had give promising signs that the project would be reviewed to a large extent.
The Chinese will remain dangerously close
India felt that the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had permitted the docking of two Chinese submarines and this had threatened our security.
However when the new regime took over under Maithripala Sirisena he appeared to have started out on the right note in the Indian context. He had promised to review the billion dollar port with China Communications Construction Company Ltd.
What was promised?
The new Sri Lankan government said it would review the port deal with China Communication Construction Company Ltd. There have been concerns expressed in Sri Lanka about the Chinese firm getting so much land especially in a high security zone.
As per this deal, which was signed by Rajapaksa, 108 hectares of land would be given to the Chinese firm. This included 20 hectares of land on an outright basis while the rest of it was on a lease for 99 years.
Why India needs to worry?
India, ever since the incident in which two Chinese submarines had docked in Sri Lanka have been very concerned and the port deal only added worries for India.
India has said in the past that there are security concerns attached to this deal. A large number of cargo ships which are India bound have to pass to this port in Colombo and with the Chinese investments over here there is a great deal of security risk involved.
The part where 20 hectares of land has been granted on an outright basis is the basic area of concern. With the Chinese having absolutely control over the 20 hectares there are security issues that have worried India.
What Ranil Wickremasinghe had said?
Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had assured during his campaign that this project would be scrapped if his party came to power.
He said that this deal seemed to be outright in nature and some tender procedures had not been followed.