Tamil Nadu: Concerns of PLA presence in North Sri Lanka?


Sea Cucumber: Image Courtesy Wikipedia

S. Vijay Kumar of the Hindu reported that Tamil Nadu State government is concerned over increase in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army personnel in Sri Lanka. This comes after a sea cucumber project has been undertaken by a Chinese company in this area.


“The movement of PLA cadres and deployment of hi-tech gadgets such as satellites, drones and other communication equipment in northern Sri Lanka required constant surveillance in coastal districts, the advisory sent to all cities/districts in the State said,” as per the Hindu report which has not been separately confirmed.


The security advisory was issued after warning of Chinese nationals clandestinely entering India via the sea route with the assistance of cadres belonging to a Sri Lanka-based political party.


The Hindu report also indicated that free movement of Chinese nationals in many parts of northern Sri Lanka, including Mullaitheevu, Paruthitheevu, Analaitheevu, Meesalai, and Chavakkacheri, had triggered discontentment among Tamil fishermen for exploiting rich sea wealth.


The Hindu quoted Additional Director-General of Police and Chief of Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group Sandeep Mittal as stating that presence of Chinese nationals was increasing in Sri Lanka.


Mr Mittal also observed Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka visit to islands close to the International Maritime Boundary Line, and a drone survey in the area in the guise of assessing prospects of harvesting sea cucumber. These reports have not been independently confirmed.


“While India is providing scholarships to Sri Lankan students pursuing undergraduate programmes in India, China is funding postgraduate Sri Lankan students studying in their own country. It is obvious that they [the Chinese] are trying to woo the youth in Sri Lanka to support their future plans,” he said. “Anybody cultivated by them to further their mission can also enter the porous border along the southeastern coast…Tamil Nadu has issued an alert to all coastal districts to activate their intelligence and intensify security along the coastline,” he said.


Details of Sea Cucumber Farm


The sea cucumber farm in Pungudutivu, off Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka was approved in June 2022 as a part of a large-scale commercial sea cucumber project spanning 5,000 acres in Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Batticaloa districts in the north and east reports the Hindu separately.


Hybrid Power Project


Earlier in September 2021, Times of India reported quoting an unnamed source that, “Another Chinese joint venture has been allotted land in a coastal village in northern Sri Lanka for farming sea cucumber fish despite protests by local farmers. Several such inroads in the region are being observed.”


India protested Sri Lanka’s decision to award a $12 million hybrid wind and solar energy project to the Chinese Sinosar-Etechwin joint venture in three islets off the Jaffna Peninsula in February this year.


With the islets being barely 50 km from the Tamil Nadu coast, India has countered with an offer of a $12 million grant to Sri Lanka for execution of the projects.


China suspended a project to install hybrid energy plants in three islands of Sri Lanka, citing "security concern" from a "third party", amid reports of India raising concern over its location as per a report in the Economic Times.


Chinese firm, Sino Soar Hybrid Technology, was awarded the contract to install a hybrid renewable energy system in Delft, Nagadeepa and Analthivu islands, off the coast of Jaffna


The contract was part of the Supporting Electricity Supply Reliability Improvement Project, which is implemented by the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as per the Economic Times.


This comes after India had objected to a Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 5 at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port with Sri Lanka deferring the same till August 11.


There is concern as earlier, Chinese projects were largely restricted to southern Sri Lanka but are now expanding northwards in the Tamil populated areas of Northern Sri Lanka.

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