The internally displaced Tamils in the north will soon be partners in building their own homes. They will build a majority of the 49,000 houses over the next few years after India and Sri Lanka on Tuesday signed a few documents to this effect.

The Memorandum of Understanding specifies the modalities for the next phase of the Housing Project being implemented with India’s assistance of about $260 million. External Affairs Minister of India and Sri Lanka, S.M. Krishna and G.L. Peiris, singed the MoU involving the construction of 49,000 houses. This includes reconstruction of 38,000 houses, repairs of 5,000 houses under the owner-driven model for IDPs, and construction of 6,000 houses by agencies for vulnerable sections of IDPs who are unable to build their own houses.

A pilot project for construction of first 1,000 houses is already in an advanced stage of completion. Mr.Krishna will handover to the beneficiaries some of these houses on Wednesday. He had laid the foundation for the housing project in November 2010.

Northern Railway restoration

India also extended a Line of Credit of $382.37 million for the restoration of Northern Railway Services in Sri Lanka. The Line of Credit will be used for track laying on the Pallai-Kankasanthurai railway line, setting up of signalling and telecommunications systems for the Northern railway line and other projects as may be mutually agreed by the Governments of India and Sri Lanka.

T.C.A. Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director, EXIM Bank of India and P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, Government of Sri Lanka signed the MoU. They also signed an MoU on a Buyer’s Credit Agreement for $ 60.69 million for financing Greater Dambulla Water Supply Project for supply, erection and commissioning of water treatment plant and distribution across Dambulla region in Sri Lanka.

India is also extending its expertise in Agriculture to Sri Lanka. An MoU on cooperation in the field of Agriculture was signed by Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and W. Sakalasooriya, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Sri Lanka. Under the MoU, both sides shall promote development of cooperation in the fields of agricultural science and technology, agricultural production and agro-processing through joint activities, programmes, exchange of scientific materials, information and personnel. The cooperation will be effected through biennial work Plans and joint activities.

TRAI to help Sri Lanka

To strengthen competency in the field of telecommunication regulation in Sri Lanka, another MoU was signed between Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL). The MoU provides for establishing a mechanism of technical and institutional cooperation in the field of telecommunications, to develop telecommunications in both the countries particularly in the areas of technological developments, universal access to telecommunication services, oversight of service provision, convergence, next generation networks, new technologies, spectrum issues, green telecom, number portability, economic regulation and ICTs for development. The MoU was signed by J.S. Sarma, Chairman, TRAI and Anusha Palpita, Director General, TRCSL.

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