Modi’s planning to buy world’s emptiest airport in Sri Lanka. India plans to buy the world’s emptiest airport in an effort to limit China’s influence in the Indian Ocean. Designed to accommodate one million passengers per year, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport – a vanity project by Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that opened in 2013 – is a complete dud and receives just a dozen passengers a day.Yet India is set to pay $300 million for a joint venture granting it a 40-year lease over the nearly 2,000-acre space in southern Sri Lanka that was once so empty it was used to store rice. Instead, the reason for the purchase it is near to a shipping port in Hambantota, which is run by China. The town of Hambantota is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and is an important part of the Belt and Road initiative, aimed at building trade and transport links across Asia and beyond to Europe.China runs the seaport with a 99-year lease and was planning to expand its footprint in the area with the refinery, which would be Sri Lanka’s largest, and an investment zone of about 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres). India has offered to set up a joint venture with Sri Lanka to manage and expand facilities at the loss-making Mattala airport, which sits adjacent to the Hambantota seaport. In short, India is spending US$300 million buying an airport to block a Chinese naval base.” India’s fear of China’s rising influence in the Indian Ocean is not unfounded.
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