Why A Land Bridge Between Sri Lanka and India Is Not Such A Good Idea
Posted on March 1st, 2016
Insight By Sunil Kumar
March 1st, 2016
Considering the latst US move to coerce Sri Lanka into its Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC) program it appears as though it may not be beneficial to Sri Lankla from many perspectives.
Apparently there are sources in powerful places internationally with intentions to put pressure on Colombo to accept the Asian Development Bank-funded Indian project to build a bridge between India and Sri Lanka across the Palk Strait but it could create vast incidental security issues and is more than likely to even compromise the Territorial Integrity and Sovereignity of the Island Nation to an incomprehensible degree where any plans to implement such an action needs to be nipped in the bud and viewed as a diabolical idea perhaps with a sinister agenda behind it by those trying to initiate such a plan.
Such a bridge seems just what the doctor ordered for Tamil Nadu to get a foothold on Sri Lanka at a time when tensions between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka are rife over various issues and the plan unthinkable from the perspective of Sri Lanka’s National Security which could also imperil all Sri Lankans who have only just recovered from the evils of Tamil Tiger Terrorism that once threatened to destroy and disrupt the smooth functioning of the country where the administration and the armed forces had to wage a near three decade long defensive campaign to quell it.
It must also be remembered that the Tamil Tigers despite being defunct have always vowed to resume their activities within Sri Lanka given the slightest opportunity and such a move ( the bridge in question) seems a golden opportunity for them to do just that, remembering that there are underground cells of the LTTE still circulating in the country. So this appears to be a case of playing with fire despite the so called economic benefits and the media hoopla and hype imitiated by US Secretary Kerry whose latest rhetoric points to US corecion over the issue.
Hopefully in hindsight the Sri Lanka Administration will not be baited into accepting the proposal of a land bridge at random and eventually face disastrous consequences unless there are strict measures to enforce who gains access to Sri Lanka from the South of India but even if such measures are implemented, the risk to National Security and the pouring in of undesirables and the like seems imminent and the plan- if there is such a plan- with the Sri Lankan authorities mulling over its pros and cons is better off abandoned before things get complicated rather than face far reaching consequences in the long term.
If one reads between the lines it certainly points to India’s interest in annexing Sir Lankan territory and Sri Lanka’s gullibility to accede to such a move where only the likes of the myopic Ranil Wickremasinge and his partners in administration could further accentuate the issue.
US-SL Strategic Dialogue Could Lead to Lanka’s Accepting Land Bridge With India
COLOMBO: The US move to rope Sri Lanka into its Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC) program may put pressure on Colombo to accept the Asian Development Bank-funded Indian project to build a bridge between India and Sri Lanka across the Palk Strait.
The communiqué issued at the conclusion of the first US-Lanka Strategic Dialogue held in Washington on Monday, said that the “United States encouraged Sri Lankan participation in its Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor initiative to increase economic connectivity among South Asian countries and with Southeast Asia, which is congruent with Sri Lanka’s participation in BIMSTEC and other forums.”
That “economic connectivity” also includes transit across borders, was clearly indicated by US Secretary of State John Kerry at the US-India Strategic Dialogue in 2013.
The Japanese-led Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is funding infrastructure projects all over South and South East Asia, had revived the idea of a bridge between India and Lanka as part of its cross-border highway connectivity project.
After India concluded the ADB-funded US$ 8 billion highways agreement with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal in June 2015, ADB top brass suggested to the Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, that India have a road linkage with Lanka also. They also promised to allocate US$ 5.19 billion for the project.
Gadkari lapped up the idea and raised the matter when Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited New Delhi in September 2015. How Wickremesinghe reacted to the suggestion is not known, but the official line in Colombo is that India has not officially raised the issue.
The Lankan government’s reserve is dictated by the exigencies of domestic politics where the very idea of a land bridge with India raises the hackles of nationalists who fear an invasion of Indians.
However, Lanka is likely to come under increasing pressure from the West to give up its reserve in such matters.
The West is looking to investing in the island and is counting on Lanka’s becoming a part of the Indian supply chain.
And the ADB is widening its footprint in the island with a fresh infrastructural aid package of US$ 2 billion announced on February 23 by its President, Takehiko Nakao.