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South Asia’s tallest tower opens in Colombo

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Colombo: Sri Lanka on Monday unveiled South Asia’s tallest tower, costing over $100 million, 80 percent of which has been funded by China under the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The 350-metre-tall 17-storey Lotus Tower, located in the heart of Colombo city, comprises a television tower, a hotel, a telecommunications museum, restaurants, auditorium, an observation deck, a shopping mall and a conference centre.

The tower, spread over an area of 30,600 sq metre, is constructed at a cost of over $100 million, 80 percent of which was funded by China, Sri Lankan media reports said.

According to a Colombo Page report, Sri Lanka and China signed the Lotus Tower agreement in 2012 under the Chinese government’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to build the highest TV tower in South Asia, with China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) being the general contractor.

The BRI project, critics say, is saddling nations with debt.

India has been severely critical of the BRI, the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as it comprises the $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Though the tower is still under construction, President Maithripala Sirisena decided to open the structure to the public.

“We still have not completed this project, but we decided to go ahead and open sections of the tower that can be accessed by people,” Sirisena said during the unveiling ceremony.

The project which began in 2012 under the then-president Mahinda Rajapakse faced numerous delays amid funding issues.

The Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) in a release said the Lotus Tower is foreseen to be one of the significant landmarks and an epitome of the country’s economy, culture and development.

The tower, which is expected to function as Sri Lanka’s ‘digital TV tower’, is built with fibre optic cables and is fully equipped with necessary telecommunication equipment.

The tallest tower in India is the Rameswaram TV Tower with a height of 323 metres.

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Hyderabad based GVK Group reportedly under government scanner

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Mumbai: The GVK Group, which is in locked in a legal battle with the Adani Group on stake sale in its flagship Mumbai International Airport (MIAL), on Tuesday said it has received a notice from the corporate affairs ministry (MCA), seeking some details about the airport operator.

This comes at a time when the Hyderabad-based diversified GVK Power & Infrastructure Limited, which owns 50.5 percent stake in the MIAL, is in the process of hiking its stake in the airport arm by acquiring 23.5 per cent additional stake from Bidvest and ACSA.

The MCA notice, according to sources, is based on a whistleblower complaint to MCA with regard to alleged ‘diversion of funds’ from some of the GVK Group companies.

MCA has initiated an inspection of the books of 11 entities, which include GVK Power & Infrastructure, Mumbai International Airport, GVK Jaipur Expressway Pvt and GVK Power. It has also ordered an inspection of the books of Navi Mumbai International Airport Pvt – the under construction airport at Navi Mumbai.

These companies are located in different jurisdictions — Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Rajasthan and Mumbai — of the Registrar of Companies and MCA has sent a physical inspection letter to each of these companies, sources said.

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