- Published on Tuesday, 04 December 2012 12:59
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The High Commissioner of India Ashok K. Kantha visited Mannar District in the Northern Province on Sunday (02) and handed over 175 boats with one outboard motor each and twelve fishing nets to 350 beneficiaries. The boats were handed over in the presence of Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industries and Commerce. The handing over ceremony was also graced by. G.A.Chandrasiri, Governor of Northern Province, Hunais Farook, Member of Parliament, W.M.Ehiyan, Chairman, Musali Pradesiya Sabha and several other senior officials. These boats have been gifted under the grant assistance of Government of India at a cost of LKR 71 million.
In his remarks, the High Commissioner highlighted that India’s assistance to the Sri Lankan people has evolved taking into account the immediate needs and requirements as articulated by the Government of Sri Lanka. India’s assistance which focused on emergency relief assistance towards the end of the armed conflict and in its immediate aftermath, gradually focused on the resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The subsequent requirements of re-construction are being addressed through the flagship Indian housing project, the Northern Railway reconstruction project and other infrastructural development initiatives. In parallel, several small development projects have been implemented to promote livelihood generation activities and the gifting of 175 fishing boats is a part of efforts to rejuvenate the economy of the Northern Province.
Given the importance of fishing as a prime livelihood generating avenue, the High Commissioner recalled that India had earlier gifted fishing boats and associated equipment to the fisherman in Vaharai, Eastern Province in 2009. India is also working on the Project to strengthen the existing fishnet factory at Gurunagar, Jaffna by supplying equipment at a cost of LKR 152 million, which would result in substantial employment generation.
The High Commissioner also used the opportunity of his visit to review the progress of Indian-assisted projects in the Northern Province. He underlined that the Northern Railway reconstruction project was progressing smoothly and would be completed ahead of schedule by December 2013. He dwelt upon the benefits of increased connectivity of the Northern Province with the rest of Sri Lanka once the project was completed it would give a tremendous boost to the economy of the region. Continuing on the theme of connectivity, High Commissioner expressed hope that the ferry service between Talaimannar and Rameswaram would be resumed soon and pointed out that Government of India was in favour of early resumption of the ferry service and is prepared to work with Government of Sri Lanka in this regard.
Referring to the flagship Indian housing project, the High Commissioner remarked that the pilot phase of construction of 1000 houses has been successfully completed and the second phase based on owner driven model was launched on 2 October 2012. He emphasized that Government of India has set aside adequate funds for this Project and it would be completed within three years. He looked forward to work closely with the Government of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders for the timely completion of the Project.
In his remarks, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, pointed out that the hallmark of Indian assistance was that all her support to Sri Lanka has come in the form of grant assistance. He thanked the Government of India for implementing several livelihood projects, including the grand housing project involving construction of 50,000 houses for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
In his remarks, Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industries and Commerce, also thanked the Government of India for the continuous support extended to implement a variety of projects aimed at resettlement of the IDPs in the conflict-affected areas and restoration of their livelihoods. He also stated that the people of Musali would be grateful to India for implementing a number of development projects in the region.