Monday, June 24, 2024

Stop Adani’s forced take over of Sri Lanka

Stop Adani in Sri Lanka

Who is Adani? How do we stop him? What will happen when Adani came to Sri Lanka? Adani is a question with significant implications for the national security, energy security and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. We are being systematically forced into handing over our energy security and sovereignty to official and unofficial arms of India’s foreign and trade policy. 

What’s the real deal with Adani? Is it okay if Adani buys land in the coastal areas? Is it okay to let him take control of our public energy utility because he is Asia’s biggest billionaire? Let’s look at the full picture to come to an accurate assessment of what is happening, and the extreme implications for our future economic development as well as our sovereignty as the world’s oldest nation state.

Our future economic development depends on how fast we can become a trade and manufacturing hub between Africa and Asia. Public control over national energy supply is therefore vital in realizing this pillar of development. Ensuring the lowest possible energy costs not only keep inflation at manageable levels for the majority, they also provide a rich breeding ground for a new generation of sustainable industrialisation of our hinterland. The most sustainable way to achieve energy security at a low cost and therefore guarantee energy sovereignty is the exploitation of our renewable energy potential, namely solar and wind.

Handing over the sites with the biggest potential generation at dirt cheap prices and agreeing to buy back our own energy from Adhani at a steep price has the fingerprints of a corrupt deal. Adhani has been accused of doing so across the globe. Handing over the lion share of our future energy generation to such a corrupt oligarch known for strong arm tactics will spell the end of our local energy companies, and of any hope of having a public energy utility in Sri Lanka. Instead of attracting the best technologies and best investment opportunities to strengthen our energy security and energy sovereignty, we have Adhani forcing himself on us. We have essentially kicked out a hybrid solar generation project despite being the result of a transparent and competitive bidding process.   

In the current context, what can we expect from Adani? Will he not be bribing the provincial councils and seize more land? Can we manage India controlling the life line of our economy by controlling our energy supply? Can there be any guarantee that India won’t use their growing incursion into our energy market to further push us down? How far are we willing to let India take over our economic and security needs? It is an open secret that India declared the economic and security “needs” of countries in the Indian ocean periphery to be an Indian “responsibility”. 

It is clear that the threat to our energy security and energy sovereignty is unacceptably great by handing them the control over our economy’s life blood, then why are our political leaders, energy security advocates, industrialists, trade unions & media keeping their mouths shut? Are they worried about the long reach of the Indian intelligence? 

Let’s start talking about Adani. If Adani is truly a law abiding businessman, then we need not fear. But he has not been law-abiding or civil in India or Australia. He is known for carrying out land-grabbing in a brutal manner and successfully evading legal implications. This has led to deforestation in India and Australia, land grabbing and the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Most importantly, Adhani is working as a de facto foreign policy tool of Modi’s government. This may explain how a private company owned by a close friend of India’s PM is taking over Sri Lanka’s energy sector on behalf of the Indian ruling party BJP. 

Adhani is capable of successfully exploiting existing loopholes in the law. Also, he can override and ignore the international opinion thanks to the advantage he gets from his political chief PM Modi.  The successful but small local energy companies in Sri Lanka will be no match for Adhani’s strong arm tactics. The unfair and illegal advantages he could command will be deadly for local energy and public utility suppliers. 

However, the public opinion in Sri Lanka can protect its energy sovereignty and guarantee energy security for future economic development. We need to wake up to reality and fight for our future. It is time to stand up for our rights to be free and sovereign as a nation. We need to defend our energy sovereignty for our future. We can never hand over our future renewable energy capacity to an oligarch such as Adhani. This is especially important as the hydrogen based energy generation is taking a leap in advances. The present and the future of energy is green, and we must keep the window open to expand our public access to renewable energy generation to guarantee low cost energy. 

There are plenty of opportunities around the world to find technology and investment that do not threaten our country’s energy needs. We are perfectly located between Africa and Asia to be an important trade and manufacturing hub if we can successfully attract competitive energy investments instead of corrupt and expensive incursions into our sovereignty by the likes of Adhani. 

Meanwhile, as a giant in India’s energy production, it is only prudent for Adani to take over the renewable energy production in Sri Lanka. Adhani already has managed to obtain permission through a cabinet paper for hydrogen production. 

Former Minister of Energy signed an agreement for a so-called feasibility study on the production of green hydrogen with a joint company from India and Norway, Greenstat Hydrogen India. But information about this agreement was kept away from the public eye. The Government of Sri Lanka has not been able to provide information about it, violating the provisions of the right to information. This new secretive company has already started their operations in Sri Lanka. Now the government is preparing to permit 500 MWof generation capacity by giving 1000 hectares of land to Adani Green Energy Limited. This will essentially give Adhani and its masters in the Indian government a controlling stake in the national energy supply. Meanwhile, it has been a very difficult task for our local companies in Sri Lanka to find land for a renewable energy project in Mannar district. All are hoodwinked by Adani’s henchmen and waiting to sell land. Meanwhile, local energy companies are being systematically driven to bankruptcy by Adhani’s henchmen in the CEB of Sri Lanka by delaying their due payments. This will put all local companies in a vulnerable position against Adani.

We must stop the biggest polluter in Asia, Adhani, from taking over the future of our beautiful country. We must voice our opinion and fight for our economic and energy sovereignty. 

Sri Lanka must stop Adani.

Bandu Ranga Kariyawasam, Sanka Chandima Abayawardena

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