Adani Group ‘disappointed’ by detraction

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The Adani Group said it was “disappointed,” as it reacted to a massive controversy over an energy project in Sri Lanka awarded to the group, after former Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando claimed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa acted under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Our intent in investing in Sri Lanka is to address the needs of a valued neighbour. As a responsible corporate, we see this as a necessary part of the partnership that our two nations have always shared. We are clearly disappointed by the detraction that seems to have come about. The fact is that the issue has already been addressed by and within the Sri Lankan Government,” said a spokesperson of the Adani Group, according to the Indian Media outlet NDTV.

Ferdinando resigned, three days after he claimed before the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that he was told by President Rajapaksa about PM Modi pressuring him to give the Wind Power Project to the Adani Group.

President Rajapaksa, who categorically denied Ferdinando’s claim, tweeted“Regarding a statement made by the CEB Chairman at a COPE committee hearing regarding the award of a Wind Power Project in Mannar, I categorically deny authorisation to award this project to any specific person or entity. I trust responsible communication in this regard will follow.”

The former Chairman eventually retracted his statement, offering his unconditional apology, and said he was emotional while facing the panel.

The allegations involve a 500 MW renewable energy project in Sri Lanka’s Mannar District. A video of Ferdinando’s comment at the parliamentary hearing has been widely circulated on Twitter.

The controversy erupted a day after Sri Lanka changed its laws to remove competitive bidding for energy projects. The Adani Group figured in the parliamentary debate on the Electricity Amendment Bill before it was passed, amid Opposition protests.

The Opposition accused the Government of ramming the Bill through Parliament to facilitate large renewable energy deals for the AdaniGroup, which signed an unsolicited government-to-government agreement to build the Mannar Wind Power Plant.

The Adani Group reportedly won contracts to develop two wind power projects, in Mannar and in Pooneryn, in December.

Gautam Adani had visited Sri Lanka in October and had tweeted about his meeting with President Rajapaksa.

In 2021, the Adani Group had signed a US$700 million deal with the State-run
Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) to develop and run the strategic West Container Terminal of the Colombo Port.(SRM, with inputs from NDTV)