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India must step up engagement with Lanka

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The Sri Lankan Parliament, on May 19, 2021, passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Bill. After the Bill becomes an Act, China will obtain an additional 269 hectares of reclaimed seafront off the Colombo port in the country’s south-west with little oversight from the Sri Lankan government.

Colombo assumes importance for India since almost 70 per cent of all container cargo for and from India is trans-shipped there, mostly at Chinese operated terminals. This not only has security implications, but also results in delays in transit and loss of revenue for India. New Delhi, conscious of this serious lacunae, seeks to create trans-shipment hubs in south India; which however will have a gestation period.

Further, India, Japan and Sri Lanka had signed a deal in 2019 for India’s Adani Ports Group to lead the development of Colombo’s East Container Terminal (ECT). However, labour protests, most certainly China orchestrated, have put a spanner in…

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