Sri Lanka Perspectives: January 2017
by R Hariharan on 12 Feb 2017 2 Comments

LTTE plot to kill Tamil MP


Sri Lanka police’s Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) arrested five rehabilitated LTTE cadres for allegedly plotting to assassinate MA Sumanthiran, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Member of Parliament, known for his moderate views. The TID is reported to have recovered two claymore mines and large quantities of cannabis from the homes of four of them, arrested on January 14, and produced before Kilinochchi district court on January 20. According to Daily FT of Colombo, a fifth person, Vijayan, was subsequently arrested in the same case. 


Significantly, they were not arrested under the infamous Prevention of Terrorism Act but charged with possession of explosives and narcotics. They have been remanded to custody till February 13. 


Well known columnist DBS Jeyaraj in his blog says a former LTTE cadre Kulendran alias “Master” of Kilinochchi, one of the four arrested persons, had cultivated ‘Nallavan’ (pseudonym), a rehabilitated LTTE cadre in Kilinochchi; subsequently he offered Nallavan Rs 15 lakh for killing the Jaffna district MP Sumanthiran. Kulendran told him that some LTTE leaders overseas who would pay wanted this done and assured him safe passage overseas after he carried out the task. Nallavan was horrified at the idea of killing the TNA MP who had impressed him and refused to do so. 


Subsequently, Nallavan came to know the plan was to kill Sumanthiran when the MP came to Jaffna to address a cultural festival at Karaveddy on December 24. Nallavan informed the police of the plot. President Sirisena was informed of the plot and he advised the MP to cancel the visit. Police verified Nallavan’s information and arrested the five persons based upon further investigations.


Though the political reaction to the alleged LTTE plot and arrest of the conspirators was in keeping with their known stand on release of former LTTE cadres in particular and Tamil militancy in general, the incident raises important issues regarding the scope for revival of LTTE activities by its overseas echelons and supported by LTTE sympathizers among Tamil Diaspora. They had been vociferous in celebrating the LTTE and its mentor Prabhakaran to keep the Tamil Eelam demand alive. No doubt Sri Lanka government would continue to keep a close watch on such developments; India would also be vigilant to prevent such elements entering the country.


Progress of Chinese-aided mega projects


After wrestling with allegations of corruption, violation of environmental norms and bending the rules to favour Chinese investment companies investing and executing massive infrastructure projects finalized during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule, the Sirisena government seems to have to come to terms with them, even as Rajapaksa’s ambitious Hambantota port and Mattala airport projects continued to incur heavy loss.


Sri Lanka government formalized sweeping tax concessions offered to the prestigious Port City project (renamed Colombo International Financial City - CIFC) through gazette notifications submitted to the parliament on January 27. The project aims at creating an off shore financial centre to be constructed close to Galle Face Green, Colombo’s famous landmark.  


The concessions include exemption of income tax on the earnings of the Chinese company from the project for a period of 25 years. Foreigners working for the company also have been exempted from a number of levies including customs duty. 


The prestigious $1.3 billion CIFC project was halted when President Sirisena came to power to vet all Chinese aided projects for alleged corruption and violation of environmental norms. This move annoyed the Chinese government. The Chinese made clear the terms of agreement were not negotiable.


The Sirisena government reworked the CIFC’s master plan and included it in the larger megapolis plan. A tripartite agreement for the revised project was signed in August 2016 by the Megalapolis and Western Development Ministry, Urban Development Authority and the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), exempting the Sri Lanka Port Authority which was a party to the earlier agreement.


The new master plan is considered more environment friendly as it will have 45 hectares of parks and 13 hectares of artificial beaches available in the reclaimed land.


Indian projects


Indian government has aided and executed a number of projects including infrastructure (rail, road, port and other public service facilities) and housing projects mainly to benefit the people affected by the Eelam war in Northern province. However, some of them also ran run into rough weather. 


For instance, the Sampoor coal-fired 500 MW thermal power project to be executed by the NTPC had been hanging fire for long. When the work started after a lot of foot dragging, the Sri Lanka government had a relook at the project, when objections were raised on environmental grounds over the use of coal. Now, it wants the project to be based on liquefied natural gas instead of coal. The project is still pending approval from the Indian government for the proposed changes. 


Similarly, India’s involvement in the development of Trincomalee port is a long story that never materialised. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has now clarified that the Trincomalee harbour area would be developed as shipping, manufacturing and tourism complex with 175 sq. km. high-end tourist resort area in its environs. Subarna Jurong, a Singapore-based infrastructure company, is to prepare a master plan for the project.


Just like China’s CIFC project, Tata Housing Development Ltd’s $429.5 million One Colombo Project (OCP) to build a modern mixed development and housing project at Slave Island, a suburb of Colombo, also ran into rough weather over contractual terms. After a period of suspense, the project is now being executed after overcoming glitches in contractual terms. The government has given an eight-acre land in Slave Island and an income tax holiday for ten years and corporate tax exemption for six years for One Colombo Project Ltd, formed by THD jointly with the Urban Development Authority.


Written on January 31, 2017

Courtesy: South Asia Security Trends, February 2017 issue



In the Media: India’s aid to settle Sri Lankan Tamils on downslide

TNN February 2, 2017

India’s financial support to Sri Lanka has reduced in the past two years. The actual support given towards rehabilitation of the internally displaced Tamils in the island nation is lower than that mentioned in the budget, Times of India reported.


In 2016-17, the budget estimate was ‘230 crore towards financial support for Sri Lanka, which includes reconstruction expenses for Tamil refugees, who returned home after the civil war ended. But the revised estimates show that the Centre is likely to transfer only ‘155 crore and in the next financial year, the allocation is estimated at ‘125 crore.


“There are many Tamil refugees, who are returning to Sri Lanka and they need help from India. The money allocated by India will be sanctioned only through its embassy and spent on roads, hospitals, schools or other infrastructure facilities,” a Sri Lanka Tamil minister, seeking anonymity, told TOI.


Sri Lanka needs India’s support as many refugees are ready to return home, said Lanka expert Col R Hariharan. “Though many projects have been completed in North and East, the problems faced by Lankan Tamils is not over. Tamil Nadu must also raise its voice with the Centre for the welfare of refugees in the state,” said Col Hariharan. Getting refugees to remain in Tamil Nadu is no long term solution and they must be rehabilitated in their homeland. “Tamil Nadu must also speak about long term projects for Tamils in Lanka and this must also be debated in the assembly,” he said.


Courtesy: Times of India, February 2, 2017     

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