01/09/2018, 13.19
SRI LANKA
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Prime Minister: one billion dollars from Beijing for the Colombo Port City

by Melani Manel Perera

Legislation for the project will be presented in parliament in March. Construction of the first three 60-storey towers should start is June-July. This is the largest investment ever made in Sri Lanka.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Legislation for the Chinese-funded Colombo International Financial City or Port City is expected to be brought before Parliament in March this year.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, accompanied by Megapolis and Western Development Minister Partali Champika Ranawaka, made the announcement whilst on an inspection tour of the project.

The bills for the proposed financial city will be presented to Parliament in the coming months. “By 2020 all infrastructure work would have been completed,” the prime minister said.

“The foremost goal of the Port City is to make it the financial hub in the Indian Ocean. New laws and regulations will be needed for a project of this magnitude,” he added.

“Construction of the three towers, each 60 storeys high, will begin this year with a foreign investment of US$ 1 billion,” Minister Ranawaka said, adding that the Port City will be Sri Lanka’s first fully-planned city. 

“[C]onstruction is scheduled to begin around June or July,” said Port City Project Director Nihal Fernando.

The three towers are a mix development project with retail and office space as well as several hotels. “These will be the first permanent buildings of the Port City,” Fernando explained. 

The Port City project was launched in September 2014 under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and includes a US$ 1.5 billion investment by China Communications Construction Co. Ltd, a Chinese holding company.

From the beginning the project has generated opposition among local environmentalists and fishermen, who were able to get it suspended.

In January 2016, the People's Movement against Port City, an activist group that has led the protest, presented a 400-page Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with 128 negative opinions on the project.

The document underlines the "unimaginable damage" to the surrounding ecosystem, since the project involves the construction of 269 hectares of coastline in the capital of the country.

In the end, in March 2016 Sri Lankan authorities gave the green light to construction. The Chinese project represents the largest investment ever made in Sri Lanka.

The new area will include shopping malls, luxury apartments, leisure facilities, swimming pools, golf courses, casinos and even a Formula One racing track.

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