Air plane  Steps are been taken to commence direct flight services between Jaffna – India, Indian Consul General V.Mahalingam said speaking at the Inauguration of 5th Jaffna International Trade Fair  on 17 January 2014.

Speaking further he said that in 2011-12, India’s imports from Sri Lanka went up by almost 45% to cross US$ 720 million, making Sri Lanka the largest source of merchandise from the South Asian region for India.  This is a big jump from US$ 45 million imports in 2000-01, when Sri Lanka occupied the 4th rank as an import source for India in the region.  There is no doubt that the FTA brought significant benefits to both sides.

As far as Northern Province is concerned, I would like to highlight here that trade has been only  one facet of the economic and bilateral relation that India has with Sri Lanka and another and what I consider a more important facet of its relation with Sri Lanka is the Development Partnership projects that India has been proud to be associated with Sri Lanka.

In the last four years India has contributed significantly in the various sectors which has a direct bearing on the livelihood of its people and economy of Sri Lanka.  To quantify the project assistance, the total assistance provided in Housing sector, Education sector – construction/repairs of schools, setting up of language labs, Health sector – provision of medical equipments and construction of hospitals, Livelihood sector – reconstruction of fishnet factory, Industrialization sector – reconstruction and revival of the Atchuvely Industrial estate, operationalising the KKS Port, etc., works out to over SLR 18 billion rupees.

As on 31 December 2013, 10,250 houses have been completed in Northern and Eastern Provinces.  On the Railway front, the railway line between Omanthai and Killinochchi was inaugurated in September 2013 and the link upto Palai is in the completion stage and expected to be inaugurated shortly.  By April 2014, the railway link would eventually reach Jaffna.  India has helped in rehabilitating Kankesanthurai Port by removing wrecks/sunken ships and dredging under Indian grant assistance.  Efforts to complete the infrastructure around the Atchuvely Industrial Zone to encourage the entrepreneurs of Northern Province to set up their units at the Industrial estate will be completed by end January 2014.  India has also helped the North Sea Fishnet Factory to revive its operation with expanded capacity.  India has also assisted Small businesses in Mullaitivu and Killinochchi districts to revive their business activities which were damaged or destroyed during the period of hostilities.

Two more important links which could improve people-to-people contacts as well as in turn substantially improve trade and economic relations are direct air link between India and Jaffna and Ferry service between Talaimannar and Rameswaram.  We look forward to these two happening at an early date which will give a great boost to economic development of Northern Sri Lanka.

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