Strategic move: AAI to develop Palaly airport in Sri Lanka - Indrani Bagchi & Saurabh Sinha
NEW DELHI: State-run (AAI) will now develop airports abroad, like its private counterparts GMR and GVK. AAI will develop an airport in Sri Lanka’s Palally Airport in Sri Lanks a strategic area for India.
“AAI has signed an agreement with (Indian) ministry of external affairs for preparation of detailed project report for development of Palaly Airport in Sri Lanka. Considering AAI’s expertise and capabilities in airport development and operation management, the authority wants to go global. AAI has developed more than 60 airports in metros and non metros in India and now wants to leverage its expertise to other countries on a bigger scale,”
an AAI official said.
“Palaly is in Jaffna in the north — Tamil territory. India had earlier promised to develop Palaly airport which has been a demand by the northern province for some time. The airport will be Sri Lanka's first in the north, give the northern people direct connectivity with places like south India, Malaysia and Thailand. India has also offered to develop the Kankesanthurai airport also in the north,
as well as the Mattala international airport in south Sri Lanka, abutting the Chinese developed Hambantota port,” said a person in the know.
“After the Sri Lankan war was over in 2009, India has been involved in the reconstruction and redevelopment of the northern province.
However, as China became one of the largest developers of critical infrastructure in Sri Lanka, it forced India to speed up its own development assistance.Palaly is important due to the fact that it is in the sensitive Tamil-dominated northern province, traditionally closer to India.
By developing critical infrastructure here, India is also keeping a foothold in this part of Sri Lanka,”
the person cited above added.
The agreement for Palaly was recently signed by AAI’s executive director (land management and business development) Anil Gupta and MEA’s joint secretary Sanjay Panda.