Sri Lanka gives China green light to build giant ‘port city’ in Colombo

Sri Lanka has granted China  permission to build a vast ‘port city’ in Colombo on reclaimed land next to the capital’s main harbour, despite concerns the ambitious project could be an environmental disaster. Having suspended the controversial plan shortly after his inauguration at the beginning of 2015,  President Maithripala Sirisena today gave the green light to the project, which is expected to include housing, a marina and a Formula One racetrack.
The project, funded by China’s state-owned company China Communications Construction, represents the biggest single foreign investment ever received by Sri Lanka, and will add  575 acres of new real estate to its congested capital; but critics, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesing, say that reclaiming the land  could trigger erosion along the island’s western coastline and threaten its vital tourist industry.
Sirisena’s predecessor Mahinda Rajapakse – who is currently under investigation for corruption –  had  relied heavily on China to rebuild the country’s infrastructure after the end of the island’s decades-long ethnic war in May 2009, in returning  awarding  major contracts to Chinese companies for the construction of roads, railways and ports.  On coming to power Sirisena subsequently ordered a review of all big-ticket construction projects signed  by the previous regime.
While Beijing would argue that the new port city is in keeping with its ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative to revive the Maritime Silk Route from China to Western Europe, it stands accused of seeking to develop facilities around the Indian Ocean to counter the rise of rival India and to secure its own economic interests.

Source: theguardian