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China-funded Colombo port city project to resume

The Sri Lankan government has given approval for the Chinese-funded Colombo Port City Project to go ahead, a top diplomat has said.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to China Karunasena Kodituwakku on Friday has confirmed that the delayed Colombo Port City project, a plan to create a South Asian financial hub, has been given the approval.

The Sri Lankan government on 6th of March 2015 temporarily suspended the US$ 1.4 billion project launched by the previous government in partnership with China in September 2014.A government official in November last year said the government is conducting high level discussions with the Chinese officials and it is likely to give its approval to restart the stalled project by February.

"We feel Colombo is ideal for a South Asian financial hub," Ambassador Karunasena Kodituwakku said in an interview with China Daily.

The urban complex project will build a city on 233 hectares (583 acres) of land reclaimed from the sea between the Colombo South Port and the Galle Face Green. Once completed the offshore city will have sport complexes, mini golf ground, housing and office complexes, luxury hotels and many other modern facilities.

The location of the project will help connect businesses from India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Singapore and the Middle East, the Ambassador said.

The Colombo Port City is one of China's key projects along the 21st Maritime Silk Road. "The most important South Asian port" under the initiative "will be a port in Colombo or another port in Sri Lanka," said the Ambassador.

According to the Chinese Embassy to Sri Lanka, Colombo Port City will become "a high-end urban complex in South Asia concentrating industries, including finance, tourism, logistics and information technology", and the whole project will create more than 80,000 jobs.

A greater environmental impact assessment to allay public concern was needed, which was "not the fault of the Chinese company, Kodituwakku said.

The construction project's "incremental environmental impacts" were assessed as "minimal/negligible at the reclamation site and the coastal zone to the North and South of the site," said an environmental impact report released in December by the Sri Lankan Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department.

"The project will create employment. It will create tax income and indirect opportunities for other services� Everybody will benefit," the Ambassador said.