The reconstruction of the destroyed Northern Railway line in Sri Lanka with India's assistance represents a milestone in the historic partnership between India and Sri Lanka and the completion of the rail line would also enhance connectivity between the two countries, India said Monday.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa accompanied by India's High Commissioner in Colombo Y.K. Sinha declared open the Pallai-Jaffna reconstructed railway track and signal system for public yesterday at a ceremony in Jaffna.
“India said as "Sri Lanka's closest neighbor and long-standing partner, India is prepared to extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in fulfilling its aspirations for peace, harmony, national reconciliation and development. The reconstruction of the Northern Railway line represents a milestone in this historic partnership between India and Sri Lanka,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a statement.
The rail line linking Jaffna to Colombo was reconstructed by IRCON International Ltd, a Public Sector Enterprise under the Government of India with a concessional Line of Credit.
India granted a US$ 800 million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka to reconstruct the rail line on June 9, 2010 during the Sri Lankan President's visit to New Delhi.
The 38 km long Pallai-Jaffna railway line has been reconstructed as part of reconstruction of the Northern Railway line which was totally destroyed in the north by the Tamil Tiger terrorists during their reign.
The segments already completed under this project include the Medawchchiya-Madhu Road segment, inaugurated on May 14, 2013; the Omanthai- Kilinochchi segment, inaugurated by the President on September 14, 2013; and the Kilinochchi-Pallai segment inaugurated by the Minister of Transport on March 4, 2014.
Work is going on simultaneously on the Madhu Road-Thalaimannar section and Jaffna-Kankasanthurai section, together with signaling and communications work.
Indian High Commission in Colombo further said the reconstruction of the railway line up to Jaffna holds special significance as with the inauguration of this segment of the railway track, the Yal Devi Express which used to ply on this route, would once again start its services to Jaffna, thus reconnecting Jaffna to Colombo by rail.
"The operationalisation of the Northern line would restore connectivity not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thereby promoting development, reconciliation and greater integration by bringing people in different parts of the island closer," it said.
As part of this project, a pier is to be built at Thalaimannar to enable resumption of ferry services between Rameshwaram and Thalaimannar at an early date.
With the construction of the railway line up to Kataragama and resumption of ferry services between Thalaimannar and Rameshwaram Sri Lankan citizens would be able to travel by train from Hambantota and Matara to Bodhgaya as also to Jammu and Kashmir in North India, Gujarat in the West, Assam and the North-eastern states in the East.