COLOMBO: The Chairman of Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), M M C Ferdinando has resigned days after he alleged before the parliamentary panel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi influenced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to award a wind power project to the Adani Group in this island nation.
The top Sri Lankan official’s resignation was announced by the Sri Lankan power and energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera on Twitter. He wrote that Ferdinando’s resignation had been accepted and that he would be replaced by the vice-chairman as the head of Sri Lanka’s Central Electricity Board (CEB).
Ferdinando’s testimony before parliament’s Committee for Public Enterprises (COPE) last Friday sparked a political controversy with the opposition in both Sri Lanka and India.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Ferdinando apologized unconditionally for his recent statement before the COPE meeting regarding the awarding of the Mannar Wind Power project to Indian conglomerate Adani, The Island, a local newspaper reported.
“During this discussion, I became so emotional due to pressures and unreasonable allegations levelled against me to issue this official letter of request. Therefore, due to unexpected pressure and emotions, I was compelled without limitation to express the word ‘India agamathi bala kara bawa kiwwa’ (stressed by the Hon Prime Minister of India), which is totally incorrect. Hence, I wish to withdraw the relevant statement and record my apology unconditionally,” the statement cited by the Sri Lankan newspaper read.
Ferdinando, who is the former Secretary to the Ministry of Power, told the committee that the President had informed him to award the tender to the Adani Group as there was pressure from the Indian Government to do so.
Rajapaksa issued a statement denying that he had exerted any pressure as regards the power project.
“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 authorization to award this project to any specific person or entity. I trust responsible communication in this regard will follow,” Gotabaya Rajapaksa Tweeted on June 11.
Sri Lanka is currently in an acute shortage of power.
India has sent assistance worth several billion US dollars to rescue the money-strapped Sri Lankan government accompanied by shiploads of humanitarian aid, cooking gas, large quantities of fuel, and medicinal supplies.
India is becoming a stronger and more mutually beneficial partner to Sri Lanka. Apart from assistance during the pandemic and fertilizer chaos, India is also donating basic products to island nations.
On June 3, High Commissioner to Colombo Gopal Baglay handed over a total of 3.3 tons of essential medical supplies to the 1990 Suwaseriya Ambulance Service.
Baglay said that Jaishankar was apprised of the looming shortage of medical supplies faced by the Foundation during his visit to the Suwaseriya Headquarters in Colombo in March 2022.
Earlier on May 27, Acting High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Vinod K Jacob handed over a consignment of over 25 tons of medical supplies to Minister of Health, Keheliya Rambukwella in Colombo.
Taking to Twitter, the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka said that the consignment is valued at close to Rs 260 million.
These humanitarian supplies are in continuation of the Government of India’s ongoing support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial assistance, forex support, material supply and many more. These efforts prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy which places people-to-people engagement is still active.