India was one of the first countries to extend help to Sri Lanka and relationship between the two countries continued to grow, said Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa here on Wednesday.

Speaking to mediapersons after the launch of the Indian housing project in the Eastern Province, he said India had, soon after the war, expressed faith in Sri Lanka’s ability to carry out rehabilitation and reconciliation.

Commending the work of the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K. Kantha, who completed his term on Wednesday, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa said: “His involvement throughout his stint here ensured that the projects aided by the Indian government commenced and proceeded at a fast pace.” The Indian government’s engagement, he said, was not just with the Northern Province, but covered the entire country.

On the Sampur power project — to be carried out jointly by the National Thermal Power Corporation of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board — Mr. Rajapaksa said: “The final rounds of discussion are on, it should take off very soon.”

A total of 4,000 homes will be constructed in the Eastern Province under this initiative, which is part of the second phase of the owner-driven housing scheme to help build 50,000 homes for those displaced during the war.