Colombo: The stalled Colombo Port City project has run into fresh trouble, with Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority pointing out to the government that the air space over the Chinese-held area would be controlled exclusively by China.
According to Article 01 and 02 of the Chicago Convention on Civil Aviation, 1944 – to which Sri Lanka is a signatory – China would have exclusive rights over the air space above the 108 hectares of reclaimed land that would constitute Colombo Port City. The land had been given to China – 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.
Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Act No. 14 of 2010 and Air Navigation Act No. 15 of 1950 were enacted in line with the Chicago Convention of Civil Aviation, making Sri Lanka bound to the terms of the international convention, to which 191 countries are signatories.
The argument of the Civil Aviation Authority has sent shock waves through the new government as to how the previous government of Mahinda Rajapakse had entered into an agreement with China without scrutinising the convention and the Civil Aviation Act.
The Sri Lankan government had, earlier this month, decided to temporarily suspend the Colombo Port City project until the conclusion of ongoing inquiries on mandatory environmental clearances.
With this new problem, the chances of resumption of work are receding further.