Colombo, November 2: High Commissioner Gopal Baglay held two separate meetings with Vidura Wickramanayaka, Sri Lankan Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs on the implementation of USD 15 million grant by the Government of India for the promotion of Buddhist ties and the functioning of the Jaffna Cultural Center (JCC) on Tuesday.
The Secretary, Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Somarathna Vidanapathirana, First Secretary (Development Cooperation), Eldos Mathew Punnoose and other officials representing the Governments of India and Sri Lanka attended these meetings.
It may be recalled that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special grant of USD 15 million for the promotion of bilateral Buddhist ties at the Virtual Bilateral Summit on 26 September 2020 and an MOU governing the grant was signed on 28 March 2022, during the visit of External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar to Colombo.
The High Commissioner and Minister Wickramanayaka agreed to immediately undertake steps for the quick implementation of jointly-identified priority projects under the grant in numerous areas pertaining to Buddhism.
Specific action points regarding the installation of solar power facilities in places of worship and the Pirivenas spread across Sri Lanka were also identified.
The disccusions on the Jaffna Cultural Center focused on the establishment of an enabling joint framework to make the state-of-the-art facility available for regular use by the public. The JCC, a glowing example of an India-Sri Lanka development partnership, which had been constructed under a Government of India grant of more than USD 11 million, consists of multiple facilities such as a museum of two floors, the latest theatre style auditorium for more than 600 people, an 11-storeyed learning tower, and a public square which could also act as an amphitheater, among others.
The two meetings underscore the Government of India’s abiding commitment to bring about a palpable impact to the daily lives of the people of Sri Lanka through the implementation of people-centric grant projects. These projects are guided by the demands and needs of all sections of Sri Lankan society and the priorities of the Government of Sri Lanka.
Till date, India has been associated with the implementation of more than 85 grant projects in Sri Lanka. The latest endeavors include the Sri Lanka Unique Digital Identity Project.