India, Sri Lanka sign agreement for setting up hybrid power plants in northern Jaffna

China last year suspended the project to install hybrid energy plants, citing 'security concern' from a 'third party'
Last Updated : 29 March 2022, 11:56 IST
Last Updated : 29 March 2022, 11:56 IST

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India and Sri Lanka have signed an agreement on implementing hybrid power projects on three Sri Lankan islands off northern Jaffna, replacing the Chinese venture cleared by the Cabinet last year.

In January 2021, Chinese firm Sinosar-Etechwin was awarded the contract to install a hybrid renewable energy system in Nainativu, Delft or Neduntheevu and Analaitivu off the coast of Jaffna, but was reconsidered following objections raised by India. The three islets are located close to Tamil Nadu.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in Colombo for bilateral meetings and the BIMSTEC summit, and his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris on Monday witnessed the signing of the MoU on implementation of hybrid power projects in three Islands off Jaffna, the Indian embassy said in a statement.

China last year suspended the project to install hybrid energy plants, citing "security concern" from a "third party", amid reports of India raising concern over its location.

China is one of the biggest investors in various infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka under Beijing's controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But there has been criticism, both locally and internationally, and growing concerns that China has lured Sri Lanka into a debt trap.

The island nation in 2017 handed over the strategically important Hambantota port to a state-run Chinese firm for a 99-year lease as a debt swap amounting to $1.2 billion.

The other five agreements India signed on Monday include providing a maritime rescue coordination centre and building fisheries harbours in Sri Lanka, implementation of Sri Lanka Unique Digital Identity (SL-UDI) programme with India's grant assistance; establishment of modern computer labs and smart boards with customised curriculum software in 200 schools in Galle District and an MoU between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute.

The agreements come amid Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis in recent memory with shortages of medicine, fuel, and milk power and daily power outages lasting for hours.

India recently announced to extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Sri Lanka as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous $500 billion line of credit in February to help it purchase petroleum products.

During the ongoing visit, Jaishankar assured India’s continued support in Sri Lanka’s economic recovery process.

Jaishankar reiterated that India’s partnership with Sri Lanka was rooted in the ‘Neighbourhood First’ approach and S.A.G.A.R (Security And Growth for All in the Region) doctrine and that India has stood by Sri Lanka in the hour of its need.

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Published 29 March 2022, 11:56 IST

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