A top Sri Lankan official quit the country’s electricity board on Monday days after he claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “pressured” the island nation’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to award a power project to the Adani Group.
Sri Lanka Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said in a tweet on Monday afternoon that he has accepted the resignation of MMC Ferdinando from the post of the chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board. Vice Chairman Nalinda Illangakoon will replace Ferdinando, the power minister said.
At a hearing of Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises on Friday, Ferdinando said that Rajapaksa had told him that Modi was insisting that a 500-megawatt wind power plant project be allotted to the Adani Group.
On Sunday, he withdrew his comments, saying that he made a false statement as he got “emotional”. President Rajapaksa had also denied the claim and his office had issued a statement “vehemently denying” Ferdinando’s remarks.
The wind power project in Mannar town of North Sri Lanka, which Ferdinando referred to, has been mired in controversy since a Bill was introduced in the Sri Lankan Parliament last month to amend the 1989 Electricity Act. The Bill proposed to remove the provision of competitive bidding to award power projects.
After the amendment was passed in Parliament on June 9, Sri Lanka’s main Opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, alleged that the reason to amend the Act was to make way for the “unsolicited” Adani deal.
In March, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya had said the Indian businessman was making a “backdoor entry” after the Adani Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding for two renewable energy projects in Mannar and Pooneryn districts, The Hindu reported on Sunday.
The party had also accused Rajapaksa of “pampering Modi’s notorious friends”.