Colombo, Jan 7 (NIA) – Clashes have erupted in Sri Lanka’s southern Hambantota town as Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe launched the Southern Development Project on Saturday morning amidst tight security.
He was accompanied by several ministers and China’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Yi Xianliang and a Chinese delegation.
NewsIn.Asia reporter on the ground said that the protesters had earlier tried to prevent the opening ceremony but were dispersed by police firing water cannons and tear gas.
However protests are continuing with protesters pelting stones at the site.
Despite the protest contining in the area, Ports Minister Arjuna Rantunga assured the public that the Southern Development Project would benefit the island country and they would go ahead with their agreements with China to launch an economic zone and hand over 80 percent stake of the Hambantota Port to China Merchants Holdings Ltd.
“This is a big victory and achievement especially for the people in the south. The former government headed by Mahinda Rajapakse did nothing for the people in the south, except taking loans which have not been paid,” Ranatunga said.
“The Minister of Finance has clearly stated that if we go to pay the loans which were taken by Ranatunga then it would take us atleast 200 years,” he added.
Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayaka said the government’s plans for the Southern development project would create thousands of jobs and would make the south in par with Colombo.
Housing Minister and Hambantota Parliamentarian, Sajith Premadasa thanked China and the government for developing his constituency and said the Southern development project, would generate thousands of jobs especially for the people in Hambantota.
He accused the former regime headed by Mahinda Rajapakse, whose home constituency is also Hambantota for failing the people and selling lands without the permission of the local public, during they previous government.
He also said that with China, being one of the leading economies in the world, the country and Hambantota area would benefit with their assistance in the southern development project.
Video Courtesy – NewsFirst