Rajitha: UNP protest against H’tota port, airport a case of sour grapes

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Although the UNP vehemently criticised the Hambantota Port and the international Airport there, an earlier UNP government, too, had planned those projects, the government said yesterday.

Addressing the UPFA weekly media briefing at the SLFP headquarters on Darley Road, Colombo, Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that the then UNF government, headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, too, had conducted a feasibility study for those two projects in Hambantota.

"Then UNF government conducted a feasibility study for Hambantota Port and it had been done by a Canadian company," he said, adding that the UNP had planned to build the airport at Weerawila, but the present government had built it at Mattala due to environmental problems.

Dr. Senaratne said that even the People’s Alliance government led by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had planned those two projects.

All those governments had failed to implement the two projects and now the UNP was criticising mega development projects to gain political mileage.

The Fisheries Minister said that any airport or port could not bring ships or planes overnight, but it would take few years to set up industries in the port and fully operate the newly built airport. "Within the next decade, the country will need another airport," Dr. Senaratne said.

Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera said that there was no campaign from the opposition in the Hambantota District in the run-up to the Provincial Council election and it had resulted in a preferential vote battle among UPFA candidates.

He said that the UNP or the JVP or any other party could not market its lies because of the unprecedented development drive launched by the government.

Badulla District MP Vadivel Suresh also addressed the media conference.

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