India accused of blocking development of East Container Terminal

India has thwarted the development of the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port, opposition politicians said on Sunday.

Three gantry cranes worth USD 25.7 million that had been purchased on June 20 for the development of the terminal, have not been set-up on the development site, drawing condemnation from several entities.

“As a result of this delay, more than 10 million has been incurred as demurrage charges daily since the 26th,” Chandrasiri Mahagamage, the general secretary of the All Ceylon Port General Workers’ Union said.

He pointed out that engineers of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority had constructed the rails required to unload the cranes from the vessel through which it had been shipped, spending more than Rs 20 million.

“Have the development activities at the port been suspended to sell off the remainder of the port to India,” K.D. Lalkantha, a parliamentary election candidate for the National Peoples’ Power said.

Port unions are demanding that the SLPA must not “sell national assets to foreigners”, according to a report published by the Sunday Times.

They want the cranes installed—despite not being of the required specifications for such a deep water facility—and the ECT run under the SLPA, the report read.

However, the Memorandum of Cooperation entails international obligations that India, in particular, is keen to enforce.