India, Sri Lanka MoU to re-build port

Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha and Sri Lankan Ports and Highways Secretary Sujatha Kure exchange documents signing an MoU on the development of the KKS port in the northern province in Colombo on Wednesday. Photo: R.K. Radhakrishnan   | Photo Credit: R_K_Radhakrishnan

India and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Wednesday to develop the Kankesanthurai (KKS) port, the first such deep water facility being re-built in the northern peninsula.

The KKS port was rendered useless after the LTTE repeatedly attacked it when the outfit controlled the surrounding areas. The port was key in connecting the Jaffna peninsula with the rest of Sri Lanka and also regional destinations, particularly India. “KKS will give the north a window to the world and restore both regional and domestic connectivity,” said Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha, after signing the MoU with the Sri Lankan Secretary in the Ministry of Ports and Highways Sujatha Kure.

The Port will significantly lower the transit time of goods from and to India, Bangladesh, and the neighbourhood, and propel economic activity in the north, a region that is trying to find its feet after about three decades of civil war.

The main problem in re-building the port is the presence of six ship wrecks. The contract to remove the wrecks has already been awarded to a Singapore-based firm. The company will start work over the next couple of days. It will complete this work by November this year.

The Indian public sector engineering consultants, RITES, has already begun work on preparing a Detailed Project Report for the port. This is expected to be ready in August this year. Once Sri Lanka approves the DPR, India will begin work on deepening the port. “The minimum draft will be at least eight metres,” he said.

Sri Lankan Deputy Minister for Ports and Highways Rohitha Abegunawardhane said that Sri Lanka will take up construction of the Quays and the breakwater. This work is expected to take about two years.

The KKS port is one of the projects where work is set to begin a mere few days after signing a MoU. When asked about this, Mr.Kantha said that it was possible because all preliminary work had been completed. “The hydrographic survey was done in June-July 2010 and the DPR work too is nearly complete,” he said. Once the DPR is approved, the Dredging Corporation of India will begin deepening work in the port. A Government of India grant of US$ 20 million will take care of some aspects of the project. A concessional line of credit has also been extended for the project.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 1:20:45 PM |

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