Sri Lanka unveils South Asia's tallest tower, funded by China

The Lotus Tower cost $100 million and stands 350 metres tall

Sri-Lanka-Lotus-Tower-Reuters The Lotus Tower, the tallest tower in South Asia in shape of a 356-meter lotus and built with Chinese funding, is seen during its launching ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, September 16, 2019 | Reuters

Sri Lanka on Monday unveiled South Asia's tallest tower, costing over $100 million, 80 per cent 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 per cent 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.