India today handed over the first lot of more than 400 houses built for Indian-origin people in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas. Addressing the beneficiaries of the Indian housing project executed near Nuware Eliya in central Province of Sri Lanka through a video message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, Sri Lanka has always been special for India and will remain so. He said, the Indian housing project in Sri Lanka with a grant of over 350 million dollars is one of the largest Indian grant assistance projects in any country abroad.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe, who was the Chief Guest on the occasion, thanked the Indian government for the assistance. He recalled the historical links and said Sri Lanka welcomes Mr. Modi’s suggestion to establish direct air links between Colombo and Varanasi to facilitate pilgrims from Sri Lanka. Mr Wickremsinghe also thanked Mr Modi for the pre-hospital emergency ambulance service which was expanded all over Sri Lanka last month with Indian assistance.
India, as part of its development assistance to Sri Lanka, has already built 46 thousand houses in war affected north and east provinces while another four thousand houses were earmarked for plantation workers in central and Uva province. India has committed development assistance of around 3 billion dollars to Sri Lanka out of which around 550 million dollars is pure grant.