India’s Adani Group has signed a deal for two large power projects in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, aimed at generating combined capacity of 500 MW, at a cost of $ 500 million.
This is six months after it bagged a strategic port terminal project in Colombo that it is now executing with majority stakes. The agreement was inked on Friday, the same day that the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) agreed to set up a 100 MW solar power project in Sampur, in the eastern Trincomalee district.
The development comes months after Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani visited Sri Lanka and held talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on possible investments in the island nation. During his visit, his team visited the northern Mannar district to explore potential for wind power projects. India’s involvement in renewable energy projects in Sri Lanka comes alongside the Rajapaksa administration’s thrust on cleaner energy.
Sri Lanka has a daily peak demand of over 2000 MW, and is currently experiencing a severe fuel and power shortage, resulting in power cuts across the country that citizens’ groups have been protesting.
Sri Lanka is also in the midst of its worst economic crisis in years, prompting the government to tap assistance from different sources. India has so far extended $ 1.4 billion this year, and Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa is scheduled to visit New Delhi soon, his second visit in three months, to firm up a further $ 1 billion support.
The Reserve Bank of India has USD 631 billion in reserves.
“Keenly look forward to welcoming Finance Minister B Rajapaksa to India next week. His visit will consolidate ongoing efforts to further strengthen Indo-Lanka economic partnership,” the Indian High Commission said in a tweet on Saturday.
Meanwhile, India’s assistance is being viewed with skepticism in Sri Lanka by some. Echoing this sentiment in its editorial on Sunday, titled ‘India’s strategic calculations as Lankans suffer’, the widely read Sunday Times accused New Delhi of resorting to “diplomatic blackmail” by tying emergency financial support extended to Colombo, to strategic projects and “several maritime security arrangements”, to counter China’s “naval expansion”.