Reports have surfaced that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pressured Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to hand over a renewable energy project to PM-aligned Adani Group.
The reports surfaced after Chairman of Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando made remarks to the country’s Committee on Public Enterprises.
Last Friday, at the Committee, Ferdinando said that President Rajapaksa had communicated that Prime Minister Modi was insistent that the energy investments project in Mannar was to be given to India’s Adani Group.
Also in the Committee, Ferdinando said the issue needs to be referred to the Board of Investment, as there was a government-to-government requirement, rather than the CEB.
Sri Lanka’s opposition alleges that changes were brought to Electricity Bill to facilitate this agreement. Under the new revisions, restrictions on the issuance of a power generation license for a person whose generating electricity over and above the generation capacity of 25 M.W was removed, and will allow anyone to apply for it without any restriction on the generation capacity. The competitive bidding process was removed, as well.
Ferdinando has since then resigned. He had claimed his comments were made when he was very emotional and had withdrawn them.
Rajapaksa had also refuted the statement. In a tweet published, he said that he ‘categorically deny authorization to award this project to any specific person or entity’.
Adani Group had also recently assumed control of Colombo Terminal Project. This project was awarded without a bidding process as well.
Adani Group and their head Gautam Adani is closely aligned with Prime Minister Modi. When Modi assumed power in 2014, Adani Group was one of the recipients of large-scale government projects. It was rumored that several projects in the Maldives were to be awarded to Adani Group as well.