India offers help to Sri Lanka’s Northern province

High Commissioner tells CM Wigneswaran that New Delhi will provide assistance for projects

June 30, 2017 09:59 pm | Updated 10:26 pm IST - Colombo

India has expressed willingness to further partner Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial administration in development initiatives, emphasising the need for a clear economic programme identifying specific areas.

Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu called on Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in Jaffna on Thursday, the former’s first visit to the Tamil-majority north after assuming charge in Colombo in January. During the meeting, Mr. Sandhu underscored economic development for the war-affected areas and said India was willing to assist in projects, sources in Jaffna told The Hindu .

Continued work

Mr. Sandhu reportedly told the Chief Minister that while political challenges may come from time to time, continued work on economic development was important, according to a source in Jaffna. The Northern Provincial Council recently witnessed a crisis with a large bloc of members moving a no-confidence motion against the Chief Minister. The problem was resolved after negotiations between senior leader R. Sampanthan and Mr. Wigneswaran.

India has been engaging with Sri Lanka’s Tamil political leadership for decades and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar have repeatedly stressed on the need for unity among Tamil politicians, even as the Tamil leadership engages Colombo over political and economic matters.

India has been involved in key infrastructure projects in the north in the post-war years, building 46,000 homes in the island’s north and east and helping restore the railway line from Omanthai to Pallai, with a $800 million line of credit. These are part of India’s $2.6 billion commitment for development assistance to Sri Lanka, including $390 million as grants, for projects all over the island. Currently, the Indian side appears keen on working with the Northern Provincial Council, on economic development, skills training and job creation.

In a ceremony held on Friday, the faculties of Agriculture and Engineering at the Kilinochchi campus of University of Jaffna, built with an Indian grant of LKR 600 million, were dedicated.

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