India’s Madras Cements has joined the fray to revive a defunct cement plant in northern Sri Lanka, which government officials say can be done only after the military captures Tamil Tiger strongholds in the region.
Madras Cements, part of the Ramco Group, a well known business group in South India, has submitted a proposal to revive the Kankesanturai plant to the Industrial Development Ministry, officials said.
Ramco group officials have visited the island twice and also made a site visit of the disused plant in the northern Jaffna peninsula.
Other companies that have shown interest in reviving the plant, India’s Birla group, and Swiss multinational Holcim, have yet to visit the site or submit their proposals, officials said.
"Three proposals are expected," said an official. "All three will be put to the cabinet by the industrial development ministry."
The army is now occupying the cement plant premises, which is within artillery range of Tamil Tiger guns south of the peninsula. The plant has been damaged in previous bouts of fighting and has also not been used for over 10 years.
Welgama said his ministry will call for open tenders from companies keen on reviving the plant, which sits on top of a rich limestone deposit that is being eyed by cement companies.