According to Article 01 and 02 of the Convention on the Civil Aviation which was signed in Chicago in 1944 - to which Sri Lanka is signatory - China will have exclusive rights over the air space above the plot of land of the Colombo Port City, which was given to China on an outright basis. According to the Colombo Port City proposed deal, 108 hectares would be given to the Chinese firm, including 20 hectares on an outright basis and the rest on a 99-year lease.
Article 01 of the Chicago Convention says, `the contracting states recognize that every State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory.` Explaining it further, Article 02 of the Convention states the territory of a state shall be deemed to be the land areas and territorial waters adjacent thereto under the sovereignty, suzerainty, protection or mandate of such state.
Both Civil Aviation Act No. 14 of 2010 and Air Navigation Act No. 15 of 1950 were enacted in line with the Chicago Convention of Civil Aviation, making Sri Lanka bound to the terms of the international convention to which 191 countries are signatories.
The Civil Aviation Authority`s argument has sent shock waves through the new government as to how the previous government had entered into an agreement with China without scrutinizing the convention and the Civil Aviation Act.
Sri Lanka`s neighbour India earlier raised security concerns over the project as a large portion of cargoes bound for India are transshipped through the Colombo Port. However, diplomatic sources told the Daily News that this air space issue could also be a major concern for India.
The Sri Lankan government has already decided to temporarily suspend the Colombo Port City project until the conclusion of ongoing inquiries. Commenting on the matter, several ministers of the present government had already told media that the project might not go ahead if it failed to get through the inquiries conducted by the new government. Reuters