Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K. Kantha, visited Trincomalee and Batticaloa on January 20 and 21 for a first hand understanding of the ground situation and look at various projects being executed in the Eastern Province with Indian help.

A statement by the Indian mission here said that during the visit he met the Governor of the Eastern Province, Mohan Wijewickrama, Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, Sivanesanthurai Sandirakanthan, the Mayor of Batticaloa, Sivageetha Prabhagaran, Councillors, other representatives, members of civil society and officials.

In the context of the ongoing development assistance extended by India to Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner inaugurated two Nenasalas (e-learning centers) in Puliyankulam and Kallad, it said.

The Nenasalas are among 20 such centres, which have been launched in the Eastern Province with Government of India assistance. These Nenasalas have been equipped with computers with internet connection, photocopiers, facsimile machines and printers provided by India with the objective of enhancing IT awareness and expanding information access to the public. The cost of the project is SLR 17 million.

India has also extended assistance for five rail bus units, which is expected to enhance transport connectivity between Batticaloa and Trincomalee aimed at providing a fast and affordable means of transport between the two places by converting conventional buses to run on existing tracks.

India has provided 10 Ashok Leyland buses at a cost of SLR 44 million to Sri Lanka Railways and also made available an additional SLR 22 million for conversion of these buses into five rail bus units in the Sri Lanka Railways workshop at Ratmalana (1 USD fetches Sri Lankan Rs. 114). Two rail bus units are successfully in operation.

The statement said that the High Commissioner inaugurated the third rail-bus unit at a public function in Batticaloa and two more rail-bus units will be inducted into operation soon.

“When all rail bus units are commissioned, they will connect, through shuttle service, the towns of Trincomalee and Batticaloa with Gal Oya, which is already connected with the Sri Lankan rail network. This will fulfill the objective of connecting the Eastern Province with Colombo”, it said.

The High Commissioner also visited the Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies in the Eastern University. During the visit, books and musical instruments worth SLR 5.5 lakhs provided by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) were handed over, with the expectation that the Institute will serve as a cultural hub for the people.

“During the visit, the High Commissioner reiterated India's continuing commitment towards strengthening links with the people of the Eastern Province and assisting them in addressing the challenges of development and reconstruction”, it said.

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