The present government has approved a cabinet paper to hand over the oil tank farm at China Bay in Trincomalee to India.
According to a cabinet approval on 07.08.20018, it has been agreed to 86 tanks from the higher terminal of the oil tank farm to be maintained as an India – Sri Lanka joint company and to hand over 16 tanks to Indian Oil Company (IOC).
The General Secretary of the Ceylon Petroleum Common Workers’ Union D.J. Rajakaruna has written to the subject minister opposing the move to hand over tanks from the oil tank farm to India.
In his letter, Mr Rajakaruna states that 101 tanks built by the British in the late 1930s were taken over by Ceylon Petroleum Corporation paying Sterling Pounds 2,50,000. On 07.02.2003 the terminal was handed over to IOC on a temporary agreement with the promise that a permanent agreement would be signed in 6 months time. However, no such agreement was signed and the IOC is now occupying the complex illegally.
He states the demand for fuel is going up daily and due to inadequate bunkering facilities CPC is able to have a stock of fuel that would be sufficient only for two weeks and constructing a new terminal to meet the demand would cost US$ 150 million.
However, making 16 of the tanks suitable for use would cost only US$ 10 million and this amount could be earned by distributing fuel he points out. He also points out that using the oil tank farm as an international terminal for bunkering purposes would earn much needed foreign exchange to the country.
The General Secretary of the Ceylon Petroleum Common Workers’ Union states if the ownership of the oil tank farm is handed over to IOC, India would get the monopoly of fuel distribution in the country and this would jeopardize the national security he points out.