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Sri Lanka surprises India after cancelling agreement

Sri Lanka has said on Tuesday that the West Container Terminal (WCT) at Colombo Port will be built jointly with India and Japan.

Earlier, the Rajapaksa government of Sri Lanka excluded India and Japan from the 2019 tripartite agreement. This agreement was for the East Container Terminal. Now a month later, Sri Lanka has decided to build a Waste Container Terminal with India and Japan.

The Hindu reported that the decision was taken in the cabinet meeting held on Monday. Government spokesperson Kehalia Rambukwela said that the nomination of India and Japan as investors for the creation of WCT has been approved.

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The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka approved Adani Port for the East Container Terminal. Neither India nor Japan has made any official comment in this matter.

According to The Hindu’s report, Sri Lanka is talking directly to Adani Port in this matter and the Government of India has no role in this. Both Japan and India expressed their displeasure at the 2019 tripartite agreement being cancelled.

Sri Lanka had suddenly decided to cancel the unilateral agreement. The agreement took place in the then Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickramasinghe government. Protests were taking place within Sri Lanka regarding this agreement.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority was earlier in agreement with the East Container Terminal Project and its share in it was 51%. But this time India and Japan share 85% in the West Container Terminal.

Rambukwela was asked how the consensus was reached this time, he said that the protest was about ECT. It is a $ 700 million project.

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The West Container Terminal is adjacent to the China-operated Colombo International Container Terminal. India had concerns about this Chinese terminal. China’s growing presence in Sri Lanka is worrying for India from a strategic point of view.

Sri Lanka has provided this option to India and Japan when Sri Lanka needs India’s support in the UN Human Rights Council session. Here in Sri Lanka there is going to be a voting on the poor record of human rights. Sri Lanka has already appealed to India for cooperation in this matter.

Apart from this, Sri Lanka is also facing economic crisis. Sri Lankan tourism industry has been badly affected due to covid-19 epidemic and foreign debt is also increasing continuously.

Last year, the Japan International Cooperation Agency withheld funds for the proposed light rail transit. According to local media, Japan made this decision due to increasing foreign debt on Sri Lanka.

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The total foreign debt on Sri Lanka is around $ 55 billion and it is 80 percent of Sri Lanka’s GDP. China and Asian Development Bank have 14 percent share in this debt. Japan has 12 per cent, World Bank 11 per cent and India two per cent.

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