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Hambantota

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Hambantota 2018, CWG logo

Sri Lanka has bid for the next Commonwealth Games to be held in Hambantota, reports Lanka Newspapers:

Sri Lanka officially unveiled their logo for the Hambantota bid of the 2018 Commonwealth Games at a ceremony held today at the President s House in Colombo.

National Olympic Committee President Hemasiri Fernando revealed that more than 50 of the 71 Commonwealth nations competing at the event have already pledged support to Sri Lanka s bid at the voting to be held in St. Kitts and Nevis in November to pick the 2018 host.

President Mahinda Rajapakse himself graced the occasion which was attended by Ambassadors, Ministers, Members of parliament, sports stars and sports officials and government officials.

The emblem design features eight pairs of hands in the colours of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Each pair of hands together, palms together and fingers pointed outwards.

This symbolises A Jali Mudr , the hand gesture practiced throughout Asia. It has the same meaning as the customary spoken Sanskrit greeting Namaste.

If you and I have never heard of Hambantota, it is entirely our loss. It is a name that will eventually be as familiar to us as Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata and Mumbai, because it is poised to become the largest port on the trade routes of the Indian Ocean, possibly the Ocean which carries the maximum amount of trade on the globe.

Map of Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka

Looking deeper into the literature, one sees that Hambantota, one the extreme south coast of Sri Lanka, is part of the chain of ports around India built with Chinese help which are part of the clear long-term strategy of Chinese domination of Indian Ocean. Business Week carried this report a year back:

Sri Lanka plans to invite overseas and local companies this month to set up operations in a new $550 million tax-free port zone as the end of the island’s civil war boosts trade and investment.

Companies from Australia, India, China, Russia and Dubai have expressed interest in opening shipbuilding, ship-repair and warehousing facilities at the port in Hambantota, southern Sri Lanka, said Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Priyath Wickrama. The zone, partially funded by a $370 million Chinese loan, should be completed by November, he said.

Sri Lanka will also push ahead with a fourth container terminal at the island’s main port in Colombo to take advantage of the island’s proximity to India and to major shipping routes between Asia and Europe. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government is set to spend $1 billion on ports, roads and power plants this year after ending the Tamil Tiger rebels’ 26-year quest for a separate homeland in May.

“With the war over the potential for Sri Lanka is booming,” Wickrama said. And, “we have a gift of location.”

Sri Lanka is situated on the route between the Malacca Straits and the Suez Canal, which links Asia and Europe. The canal was used by an average of 47 ships a day last year. The island is also 31 kilometers (19 miles) southeast of India, the world’s second-fastest-growing major economy.

Here is a recent report from Steel Guru which points to the growing importance of this port town which was completely destroyed by the 2004 tsunami:

Sri Lanka’s ‘Magampura’ port in Hambantota is a USD 360 million Chinese-built project. It will be used for ship refueling and also as an industrial port. There are about 100 acres available to industries inside the spacious port. Mr Hewageegana said that dredging on a final stretch of 25 metres is underway and should be completed in mid March, creating depths of up to 16 feet in the entrance gateway. ‘This will enable the Hambantota Port to handle ships bigger than those coming in to Colombo’ the Chief Engineer added.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority will receive financial proposals from 25 entities to start industries at Hambantota port next week, Mr Priyath Bandu Wickrema chairman told media earlier this week that a government committee had completed preliminary scrutiny of 25 proposals for suitability and financial bids for the projects will be opened next week.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Mr Agil Hewageegana chief engineer South Ports Development said that the financial proposals were the next phase of the investment approval process. He said that “We have assessed the technical proposals submitted by the parties concerned and since these 25 have proved to be adequate, we have informed the firms concerned that they can submit their financial proposals from next week.”

The very choice of Hambantota as the proposed site for the 2018 CWG speaks of a strategic vision in the Sri Lankan political establishment.

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Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

One Response

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  1. […] India’s entry into the South China Sea seems to be a bit of geopolitical leverage against China’s iron chain over the Indian Ocean. In turn, both of these geopolitical arenas are gateways to energy sources. Share this:TwitterLike […]


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