When a railway project built with Indian assistance was handed over to Sri Lanka at a railway station here on Thursday, it marked a departure from tradition: it was not an Indian Minister who did the honour but the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, who is leading an Indian parliamentary delegation.
The upgraded coastal railway line, costing $167.4 million, was completed ahead of schedule by an Indian public sector company, IRCON. “I am honoured to be here today to hand over the completed section of the railway track between Galle and Kauthara…Today's ceremony marks the completion of work on the Galle to Kaluthara line in a timely and smooth manner by IRCON International,” said Ms. Swaraj at the ceremony.
Work on phase-1 of the project, from Galle to Matara (42 km), commenced in September 2009 and the upgraded track was opened to traffic on February 16, 2011. The phase-2 work (Kauthara to Galle, 71 km) began in November 2010. The section will be open to traffic from April 19. The upgraded track will have a speed potential of 100 kmph.
Ms. Swaraj emphasised that India was committed to working with the government of Sri Lanka toward the consolidation of peace, prosperity and development. “We will continue to remain closely engaged with government of Sri Lanka to advance the process of rehabilitation, reconstruction and national development. We are also committed to enabling a genuine political settlement,” she said.
Ms. Swaraj earlier visited the Kankasanthurai harbour, where India has completed a $22-million wreck removal project. As many as 10 shipwrecks were removed from the harbour.
It will be fit for operations once dredging operations and construction of a breakwater are completed.