An Indian company has signed a contract worth US $ 700 million to build a strategically important deep-sea container terminal in Sri Lanka. This move is considered a countermeasure against China’s growing influence in South Asia.
The Adani Group of India signed an agreement with the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) on September 30 to build a terminal at the port of Colombo, the capital of the island nation.
The term of the agreement is 35 years, SLPA said Media release.. Ownership of the terminal will then be transferred to Sri Lanka.
Local company John Kiehl’s holds a 34% stake in the joint venture and Adani Group holds a 51% stake. The Port Authority owned by the Sri Lankan government is also a minority shareholder.
The so-called Colombo West International Terminal is 1.4 kilometers (0.87 miles) long and about 20 meters (66 feet) deep. It is expected to handle about 3.2 million containers annually.
The initial stages of the project, including the construction of a 600-meter (0.37 mile) terminal, are expected to be completed within two years.
The terminal will be built right next to the Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) operated by China.
In 2014, two Chinese submarines that issued warnings in New Delhi were anchored at CICT, AFP reported. Since then, Sri Lanka has not allowed any more Chinese submarines to be stationed.
Colombo is located in the Indian Ocean and is a strategic point between Dubai and Singapore’s important shipping hubs. Neighboring India also sees Sri Lanka as part of its influential region.
Hambantota International Port, the second largest port in the country, has been operated by China Merchants Port since the end of 2017 after Sri Lanka failed to repay a large Chinese loan, using Beijing’s “debt trap diplomacy” There is growing concern about. “One Belt, One Road Initiative” (BRI).
According to AFP, both India and the United States have expressed concern that China’s foothold at the port could give Beijing a military advantage in the Indian Ocean.
India, along with the United States, Japan and Australia, is a member of the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral coalition. The coalition formed in 2007 is seen primarily as a response to China’s economic and military rise in the Indo-Pacific region.