The construction of a 150-bed hospital has begun at Dickoya to offer specialised services in the hill areas of Sri Lanka, Indian High Commissioner to the island nation Ashok K Kantha said on Saturday.

“The work commenced last month. We are confident that the project will be completed in 22 months,” he told a gathering here of the Sri Lankan affiliate of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) at its 10th anniversary celebrations. “We are at present developing modalities for launching a major project for construction of houses in the central province. Working with the PIO business community, the High Commission has facilitated networking and partnerships with like-minded associations in India. GOPIO Sri Lanka has been an intrinsic component in these activities,” he said.

In Sri Lanka, the government of India launched programmes covering education, health, trade and commerce for PIOs. The High Commission offered PIO students a number of scholarships, benefiting the children of plantation workers, he said.

Mano Selvanathan, first Sri Lankan of Indian origin to have received the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Samman from President Pratibha Patil this January, was felicitated by the GOPIO.

Delegates from several countries, including Malaysia, Australia, the Reunion Island, Guadeloupe and France, International GOPIO president Mahendra Utchana (former Mauritius Minister) and general secretary Shaik Ali of Singapore attended the meeting.

Lord Rana, a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, and Chanchal Chowdhurry, general secretary of the New York-based GOPIO, outlined the work the organisation was doing.

Over the past 10 years, the GOPIO Sri Lanka has implemented educational and training programmes and highlighted matters of concern to the community.

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