India on Wednesday handed over a consignment of galvanised corrugated sheets worth US$ 2.7 million to the government of Sri Lanka as part of its commitment to help Colombo in providing relief and re-settlement of the nearly three lakh war-displaced in the north and re-construction of the infrastructure badly damaged in the 26 year long military conflict which ended in May 2009.
In his comments at the ceremony, to mark the distribution of the first lot of the second consignment of 2,600 metric tonne of galvanised corrugated sheets among 20,000 families being resettled in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu and Vavuniya districts in the Northern Province, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha said, “We are with you as the closest friend and neighbour to help assist the conflict-displaced return to their normal lives.”
Mr. Kantha said the corrugated sheets would be distributed to more than 20,000 war displaced Tamil families. India would provide a further consignment of 2, 65,000 sheets to Sri Lanka in the course of the next two weeks.
The High Commissioner recalled the announcement made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh weeks after the military defeat of the LTTE, that India would provide US$ 100 million to help in the relief, rehabilitation and re-settlement of the civilians affected in the conflict and help in the reconstruction of the infrastructure in the war ravaged north and east. “The money is being used for provision of food and non-food items.”
Mr. Kantha said very shortly 800,000 cement bags will be sent for distribution amongst 100,000 of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the north. Pointing out that reconstruction of the infrastructure is the focal point of the Indian assistance Mr. Kantha said New Delhi is already working on re-building the railway network in the entire Northern Province.
“India assistance covers a whole range of areas like health and education. We are already engaged in up gradation of the Palali air base which is the only civilian airport for the people of the Jaffna peninsula. Besides helping in rebuilding vital ports, India is committed to the development of Jaffna as a cultural centre”, he said.