External Affairs Minister of India, S.M. Krishna yesterday handed over the first lot of 1,000 houses that were constructed under a pilot project to the beneficiaries at Nalavadi, Ariyalai, Jaffna.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Indian Minister recalled his visit in November 2010 to launch the 1,000 houses pilot project at Ariyalai and said the lessons learnt from this pilot phase will be useful in the implementation of the next phase of the project to construct 49,000 houses.
The Indian Minister, who is on an official visit to Sri Lanka, visited the District General Hospital in Kilinochchi and handed over critical medical equipment to improve the standard of medical care at the hospital. Similar equipment had also been provided to the Mullaitivu District General Hospital.
The two hospitals, which served a population of 400,000 including the people from Mannar district, were completely destroyed during the conflict.
India's assistance Rs. 116.8 million worth included the supply of 28 types of medical equipment to the two hospitals, including equipment for the ICU, operation theatre, pediatric, obstetric and diagnostic units. The equipment has already been supplied, installed and is being put to use.
Indian Minister also participated in another ceremony at Sivapadakalaiyagam school in Kilinochchi, to mark the handing over of the first school under an Indian project for repair of 79 war-damaged schools in the three districts of Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya in the Northern Province.
“I am happy to note that as a result of this intervention, families will be able to send their children to schools, and students will have a decent learning environment offering them a better future, " he said.
The project at a cost of Rs. 187 million is aimed at improving the education facilities for the children of resettled IDPs in the Northern Province. A community of about 42,000 students and 2,400 teachers and educational officers will directly benefit from the project, according to a statement from the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
The Government of India has also recently approved the proposal for construction of 200-bed ward complex at the District General Hospital, Vavuniya.
At a ceremony organized in front of the Jaffna Public Library, the Minister symbolically handed over some cycles to IDPs as a part of an Indian initiative to distribute 10,000 bicycles to the returning IDPs in the five districts of the Northern Province.
The bicycles are being shipped from India to Colombo in knocked-down kits and then transported to Northern Province, where IDPs are trained and employed to assemble them at a permanent assembly unit in Vavuniya. The total cost of the project is about Rs. 67 million.
The Minister also announced the completion of wreck removal work at the Kankasanthurai (KKS) Harbour at a cost of US$ 19 million.
The project is expected to facilitate trade-connectivity with the Jaffna peninsula and revive economic activity in Northern Province.
He also assured India's assistance for the next phase of the project, including dredging and the rehabilitation of the pier and port infrastructure.
Minister Krishna also noted that India has undertaken to rehabilitate the Atchchuvely Industrial Zone to create employment opportunities in the Northern Province and to provide a platform for industrial development of Jaffna.
Among other projects receiving Indian assistance in Jaffna are the renovation of Duraiyappah Stadium and constructing the Jaffna Cultural Centre.
The Minister also expressed India's willingness to assist the Sri Lankan government to develop Palaly as a civilian airport and enhance regional connectivity, as part of India's overall commitment to Sri Lanka's reconstruction and development following the end of armed conflict.
Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda, Governor of Northern Province Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri, High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha and Consul General of India V. Mahalingam accompanied the Indian Minister.