A Sri Lankan official decided to resign after triggering a huge controversy with his claim that an energy project in the country was awarded to Indian industrialist Gautam Adani's group after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pressured the Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
What Is The Adani-Sri Lanka Controversy?
Chairman of Sri Lanka's Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), MMC Ferdinando, stepped down from his position just three days after he had alleged to a parliamentary panel that he was informed by President Rajapaksa regarding PM Modi forcing him to give the wind power project to the Adani Group directly.
However, President Rajapaksa has strongly denied those claims, and a day later, Ferdinando expressed his thoughts on it.
According to a report in NDTV, the officer had written to the Sri Lanka Finance Ministry to fast-track clearances to the 500-Megawatt renewable energy project in the Mannar district and had cited "directions by the (Lankan) Prime Minister" to recognise the Adani proposal as one from the Indian government to the Lankan government.
Reacting to this entire fiasco of events, the Adani group said it was very much "disappointed" by the controversy. "Our intent in investing in Sri Lanka is to address the needs of a valued neighbour. As a responsible corporate, we see this as a necessary part of the partnership that our two nations have always shared. We are clearly disappointed by the detraction that seems to have come about. The fact is that the issue has already been addressed by and within the Sri Lankan Government," a spokesperson of the Adani group was quoted as saying by the outlet.
Adani Group's Response!
In December last year, the Adani Group reportedly won contracts worth $500 million to develop two wind power projects in Pooneryn and Mannar. The Lankan government are yet to respond to the allegations or the letter.
On June 10, Ferdinando had first made his claim at an open hearing of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), a parliamentary panel. Since then, a clip of his comments at the parliamentary hearing has gone viral on social media.
At open hearing of parliamentary Committee of Public Enterprises-— 𝗔𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗮 (@hatefreeworldX) June 12, 2022
Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman M.M.C Ferdinando said
the SriLankan president #GotabayaRajapaksha had told him,Indian PM #NarendraModi was insisting that 500 MW windpower plant be given to the ADANI Group pic.twitter.com/FNiAyTX1kU
On the evening of June 12, Ferdinando had withdrawn his remarks following a strong denial by President Rajapaksa on social media, claiming he had been "overcome with emotion" while answering questions that suggested wrongdoing by him.
President Rajapaksa had taken to his official Twitter handle and said:
Re a statement made by the #lka CEB Chairman at a COPE committee hearing regarding the award of a Wind Power Project in Mannar, I categorically deny authorisation to award this project to any specific person or entity. I trust responsible communication in this regard will follow.— Gotabaya Rajapaksa (@GotabayaR) June 11, 2022
Rajapaksa's office followed this up with a more comprehensive statement "vehemently denying" the charge.
This entire controversy erupted only a day after Sri Lanka decided to change its laws to remove competitive bidding for energy projects. The opposition accused the current government of ramming the bill through parliament to facilitate large energy deals with the Adani group, who had signed an unsolicited government-to-government agreement to construct the Mannar wind power plant.