The Convener of the National Trade Union Centre and Member of the North Central Provincial Council, Wasantha Samarasinghe, had last Friday (12), filed a Fundamental Rights Petition in the Supreme Court praying the Court to suspend the Cabinet Paper, which has granted approval to the Indian Oil Company (IOC) to enter into a joint venture on the China Bay Oil Tank Farm in Trincomalee.
The petitioner further prays the Court through petition – SC/REF/318/2018 – to annul the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Sri Lankan……Government with the IOC in 2003 in connection with the China Bay Oil Tank Farm.
The Petitioner has requested the Court to also order the Sri Lankan Government to take over all Tanks in the China Bay Oil Tank Farm after the annulment. Samarasinghe has also requested in the Petition that an order be issued preventing the sale, assignment or lease of the China Bay Oil Tank Farm to any party, until this case is completed.
It has been mentioned in the Petition that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) which has stored stocks of oil in the Oil Tank Complex has paid a sum of Rs. 680 million to IOC.
The Petition also requests to have this money reimbursed to the CPC.
In 2003, the United National Party Government handed over the China Bay Oil Tank farm on a 35-year lease to the IOC.
From then the IOC has been using 14 oil tanks located in the Lower Tank Farm. Cabinet approval has been granted as of now to develop all 99 tanks at the China Bay Oil Tank Farm through the joint venture with the IOC. Here, the Government has decided to assign 15 oil tanks to the IOC and 16 tanks to the CPC and jointly use the balance 68 tanks.
The Common Workers Union of the CPC had also filed an FR petition in 2017 seeking an order for the Sri Lankan Government to take over the China Bay Oil Tank Farm.