Sri Lanka: India is fully engaged in efforts to break China’s growing dominance in Sri Lanka. India and Russia are jointly purchasing an airport just 18 kilometers away from Hambantota, where China keeps its ships. The big thing is that this airport has been built with the help of China. This airport is located in Mattala city of Sri Lanka. It is also known as Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) or Hambantota Airport.
Actually, Sri Lanka has taken Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease. Sri Lanka has been given a 99 year lease in lieu of loan due to its inability to repay its debt. According to the report, India and Russia may form a joint venture to buy Hambantota Airport. The only reason for this is to stop China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean. According to Sri Lankan media reports, Russia has expressed its desire to enter into a joint venture with India involving private companies to run Sri Lanka’s Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. Russian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Levon S. Dzhagarian has hinted at forming a joint venture with India to operate this airport. u
What is Russia’s stand regarding the deal?
Referring to the increasing number of Russian tourists visiting Sri Lanka, the Russian Ambassador said that this is also a major reason for their interest in Mattala Airport. He said that in South Asia, the maximum number of Russian tourists come to India and Sri Lanka is at the second place. He said that we hope that in 2024, about 12 lakh Russian citizens will reach Sri Lanka on tourist visa. Earlier this month, KDS Ruwanchand, Secretary, Sri Lankan Ministry of Ports and Aviation, confirmed that following discussions, an agreement has been reached between India and Russia to hand over the operations of MRIA to a private joint venture.
India shows interest in commercial activity of airport
This airport has strategic importance. It is situated near Hambantota. Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport was opened in 2013 by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. By 2018 almost all airlines abandoned Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport due to low passenger numbers. After this the airport went into loss. For this reason, Sri Lanka invited bids from companies interested in commercial activity from this airport, to which only India responded.
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