A brochure on India and Sri Lanka partnership published by the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka was exchanged between the two governments yesterday (Aug. 13) at a ceremony held at Hotel Taj Samudra, with the participation of Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Y K Sinha and Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
The brochure titled "India and Sri Lanka - a Partnership that Transcends” was released by Minister Basil Rajapaksa who presented its first copy to Indian High Commissioner Sinha to mark its launching.
Sinha said that the title of the brochure was very apt and sums up the relationship between the two countries that had been going through time immemorial.
It was particularly important to us that this function was held yesterday, two days before India's 68th Independence Day.
"During the last few years, after the conflict and even before, India and Sri Lanka have moved closer to each other in terms of what both governments have been able to achieve with the help of various ministries and the Government of Sri Lanka.
From the initial field of emergency assistance and our relief efforts and setting up of medical facilities, we moved through to the next stage, which was to provide and succor the livelihoods affected by the three-decades of armed conflict.
"We are happy that we have implemented a flagship housing program for those affected families in the Northern and Eastern provinces. The program involved a cost of around US$ 270 million to build 50,000 houses," he said.
He said that under the first phase of the program, 1,000 houses have been constructed, while the balance 49,000 would be built under the second phase of the program. He said that this was a very ambitious target and had the support of the Government in this endeavor.
"I must thank Minister Basil Rajapaksa who had taken a personal interest in the matter and extended his able assistance to carry out these projects throughout Sri Lanka. I also thank President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his cooperation and partnership and also the Cabinet," he said.
He further said that other than the housing project that had been confined to the Northern and Eastern provinces, there were many other projects, perhaps not as ambitious as the former, but equally important, have been implemented.
He said they were happy about the handicraft village that was nearing completion in close proximity to Hambantota and hoped that this too would be inaugurated during the next few months, adding that the Acchuweli Industrial Village had also been completed and hoped that it would be inaugurated this month.
"We have already set up nine language labs in Sri Lanka. The first lab was inaugurated by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in Gampaha. We are looking forward to open other language labs in the near future, one in Jaffna which would be in operation probably this month," Sinha said.
"I understand that we have already completed fourteen development projects in Sri Lanka and we are looking forward to working with the Government of Sri Lanka, according to priorities they have in terms of development and cooperation," he said.
Present on the occasion were Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnansothy and Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Jayantha Nawaratna.