Port City: Terminological inexactitudes
Posted on August 3rd, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

A group of ministers, on Tuesday, making a statement on the Colombo Port City Project, strove to have the public believe that the aggrieved Chinese company had agreed to forgo damages (amounting to USD 125 mn). They declared that the economic diplomacy of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had paid dividends!

The naïve among us may have fallen for that claim hook, line and sinker––and, perhaps, rod as well. The government spokesmen, however, had to admit that the Chinese company concerned would be allowed to reclaim two more hectares (or an area nearly half the size of the Galle Face Green). That is, it has got land in lieu of US dollars! How can anyone claim it hasn’t been compensated?

The Port City Project will be built under a different name, Financial City Project, the government has said. What’s in a name? Any of the land reclaimed from the sea won’t be sold freehold, we are told. About 60 percent of the land is to be leased for 99 years to the Chinese company, which was to obtain 20 ha freehold from the Rajapaksa government. The state will own the rest of the land.

The self-appointed champions of good governance before the last presidential election vowed to stop the Port city project, which, they insisted, would lead to serious environmental problems from Chilaw to Galle. There were many environmental and religious groups who called for an end to the project unconditionally. Is it that the government has no qualms about letting the environment be harmed for 99 years?

Ironically, the Port City, sorry, the Financial City, has become the jewel in the crown of the government’s ambitious Megapolis project! According to the original agreement under the Rajapaksa government the Port City was to encompass 233 ha but now the area to be reclaimed has been increased to about 270 ha, according to our sources! So, logically, it should be a bigger threat to the environment. The government has sought to hoodwink the public by claiming that the number of conditions aimed at mitigating the adverse environmental impact has been increased from 40 to 70. But, what matters most is the sheer size of the city to be built as the environmentalists have argued. The government ought to explain why it did not limit the project to 233 ha.

Part of the Port City (presumably 20 ha) according to the original agreement, would be a Chinese territory, the good governance activists claimed while they were in the Opposition. That was the reason why India had raised objections to the project, government spokesmen said on Tuesday, claiming that New Delhi had expressed concern over the fact that aircraft would not be able to fly over the Port City according to the previous agreement.

But, the question is whether India respects Sri Lanka’s territorial sovereignty. If so, how come a fleet of Indian planes blatantly violated Sri Lanka’s air space in the late 1980s to drop parippu and New Delhi does precious little to stop its fishers from poaching in Sri Lankan waters?

The government ought to admit that having failed to obtain enough funds from the western bloc and the international lending agencies, it has had to propitiate Beijing, one of the few places where money is available for borrowing. Blandishments, ‘glove-less’ handshakes etc government leaders receive in western capitals are no substitutes for the much-needed funds. The IMF remedy has proved to be worse than the malady. People are taking to the streets in protest against tax increases recommended by the IMF as one of the conditions for its loan which comes in tranches.

Western powers are ever ready to engineer regime changes in the Global South and install puppet government, but they won’t loosen their purse strings. They themselves are dependent on Chinese loans! The government has, therefore, chosen to swallow its pride and give in to Chinese pressure. China has the last laugh!

The ‘good governance’ coalition blundered by acting like a bull in a China shop as regards the Port City project before last year’s presidential polls. Now, its spin doctors cut pathetic figures when they try to make its capitulation out to be victory with the help of a host of terminological inexactitudes.

4 Responses to “Port City: Terminological inexactitudes”

  1. NAK Says:

    “New Delhi does precious little to stop its fishers from poaching in Sri Lankan waters? ”

    Wrong, they do a lot of talking on the subject!

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Wrong again, the Yamapalana Government has consented to a temporary multi year proposal to give Tamil Nadu fishing trawlers (as many as 350 … I am not certain of the exact number) to fish in Sri Lankan waters.

    It really ANGERS me that this TREACHEROUS Yamapalana government has compromised Sri Lanka’s sovereignty in thus way, and that India and Tamil Nadu has the affrontery to make such demands of anot her sovereign state. Would India permit such encroachment of its territory to China, Pakistan or Bangladesh??

    Why is the Yamapalana GoSL not defending and protecting Sri Lanka’s sovereignty??

    The FIRST DUTY of a National Government is to protect the TERRITORY, LIVELIHOODS and LIVES of its PEOPLE!

    DISCE’ AUT DISCEDE’ Yamapalanayo!!

  3. S.Gonsal Says:

    They are giving 15000 acres ( not just 5000) to China.

    What will India do now ? Pay bigger to RW , arrange violence (to kill more Sinhalas) ?

  4. S.Gonsal Says:

    Amaraweera’s Controversial Claim: Joint Opposition Requested Six Cabinet Posts To Enter Government

    Thursday, 04 August 2016 20:30 – Asian Mirror

    Making a claim which could shake up the political arena, UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera stated today that members of the ‘Joint Opposition’ demanded six Cabinet posts, two State Ministeril posts and three Deputy Ministerial posts to enter in to a government with the UNP.

    He made this claim at a press conference earlier in the day, saying that the ‘Joint Opposition’ were attempting to make deals with the UNP, even though they now accuse the SLFP leadership of entering in to a deal with the UNP.

    Amaraweera refused to declare who held discussions with the UNP, saying that the names will be revealed later.

    The Prime Minister was not ready to make such a deal, Amaraweera also said.

    He also claimed that the SLFP has become democratic for the first time in its history, where decisions are taken after deliberation and discussion by the Central Committee.

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