Aug 27 (NIE) China will build houses and upgrade infrastructure in Sri Lankan military camps in Jaffna and other parts of the Tamil-speaking North and East regions, Sunday Times reported. The project is to cost $100 million.
Besides, China will also give $1.5 million to set up a school for wards of Lankan defense personnel and police.
Recently, Lanka had inked a deal with China for the purchase of six MA 60 turboprop passenger aircraft at a cost of $105.4 million.
In the Northern Province, the Sri Lankan army, air force and navy have bases in Palaly, Karainagar, Mannar, Elephant Pass, Pooneryn, Thalladi, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya. These bases need to be upgraded so that officers can stay for longer periods with their families.
These bases were non-family stations during the 30-year war against Tamil militants.
China has bagged the contract to upgrade the bases mainly because Sri Lanka cannot approach India for help. Opposition from Tamil Nadu toward any kind of assistance for the Lankan military prevents India from taking up such projects.
Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, along with a high-level defence delegation, will visit Sri Lanka for five days from August 29. This will be the first visit by a Chinese Defence Minister to the island nation.
On September 15, a 96-member Chinese delegation headed by Vice-President of the Chinese Peoples' Congress U Bango will arrive in Sri Lanka. They intend to visit Tamil-dominated areas in the North and East.
The Chinese already have 14 projects in Sri Lanka, worth a total $6.5 billion. Out of the $2.12 billion committed in the last five years, $2.1 billion were commercial loans with no concessional interest rates. The grace period for repayment is only four to five years. The Lankan government doles out projects to China circumventing normal tender procedures.
According to diplomatic sources, the estimates of the Chinese projects in Sri Lanka are even three to four times higher than what India might have offered.