by Shamindra Ferdinando
A group of protesters on Thursday (16) demonstrated outside the entrance to the Indian High Commission, demanding cancellation of the proposed Adani Green Energy investment in the 500 MW wind and solar power generation in Mannar and Pooneryn.The demonstration, organised by those who had been engaged in the Galle Face campaign, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was the first public protest against India in Colombo, since India called off its military mission here in March 1990.
A spokesperson for the Front line Socialist Party (FSP) said that a group comprising civil society activists, lawyers, artistes and University students participated in the protest. The same group protested opposite the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) head office, in Fort, before marching to the Indian High Commission, on the Galle Road. Galle Face protesters called for a campaign against high profile Adani group investment in the wake of simmering controversy over President Gotabaya Rajapaksa interfering on behalf of Adani group as alleged by the then CEB Chairman M.M.C.Ferdinando. The official subsequently resigned after retracting accusations directed at the President.
There had been a heated exchange of words between protesters and law enforcement personnel deployed outside the Indian diplomatic mission before the crowed dispersed. The FSP spokesperson emphasized that they would continue protests demanding transparency and accountability on the part of the government and the investors as well.Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena last Wednesday (15) signed into law the Electricity (Amendment) Bill of Sri Lanka to amend the Sri Lanka Electricity Act No 20 of 2009. The Opposition alleged in Parliament that the government amended the relevant Act to facilitate the Adani investment. The Indian Opposition, too, reiterated accusations as regards the Indian Premier’s controversial relationship with Gautham Adani, the investor in the proposed wind and solar project.
According to a letter, dated Nov 25, 2021, addressed to the then Secretary Finance S.R. Attygalle, Ferdinando claimed that he received instructions from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, separately, to the initiate required process to launch the Adani project. The plan was to be implemented on the basis of a government to government project taking into consideration the understanding between President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the issue at hand, Ferdinando has told the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) during June 10 proceedings.
COPE Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath said that his committee would meet on Tuesday (21) to discuss Ferdinando’s retraction of part of his statement at the June 10 meet. Responding to The Island queries, Prof. Herath said that the committee would decide whether to call the former CEB Chairman, separatel, to clarify the issues at hand or invite him, along with the current top management of the state enterprise.
The SLPP National List MP said following deliberations, the COPE would assert its position on the proposed wind and solar power project in the North. The MP noted that the then CEB Chairman, having received instructions from both the President and the Prime Minister in this regard, had conveniently passed the responsibility to the Finance Ministry and the Board of Investment (BoI). The COPE Chairman was commenting on Ferdinando’s letter to Attygalle.Prof. Herath said that it was quite a problematic issue especially at a time the country was experiencing severe economic difficulties due to the pestering forex issue.
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