Colombo, January 9 (Indian High Commission): On January 8 (Sunday), the Sri Lankan Minister of Transport of Sri Lanka Dr. Bandula Gunawardane and High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay ceremonially launched track rehabilitation work at Medawachchiya for upgrading the railway line and ancillary works from Maho to Omanthai (128Km) being undertaken by an Indian Public Sector company, IRCON, under an existing Indian Line of Credit (LOC) of USD 318 million at a cost of USD 91.27 million.
The Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, State Minister of Highways Sirapala Gamlath and senior officials from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Transport were present at the event.
In his remarks, the Minister of Transport thanked India for the support extended to Sri Lanka, especially in the transport sector. Appreciating the work done by IRCON in Sri Lanka in the past few years, he called for greater cooperation in railways between the two countries.
The High Commissioner highlighted that India has executed projects of over USD 1 billion in the railways sector under 5 Indian LOCs. In addition, projects of about USD 180 million are either ongoing or in the pipeline under existing LOCs. He underscored the importance of modernization of the railways in enhancing mobility of goods and services in Sri Lanka thereby boosting economic activity.
The High Commissioner also stressed the importance of strengthening connectivity internally as well as with India for enhancing pilgrimages, tourism, trade and economic benefits for the people of both countries. He stated that India will work with Sri Lanka to introduce green and sustainable transport solutions.
As a long-standing development partner of Sri Lanka, the Government of India has executed several projects in Sri Lanka under its concessional loans and grant schemes. Of the different sectors of cooperation under these facilities, the upgrading and modernization of the Sri Lankan Railways have been one of the priority areas.
IRCON started its operations in Sri Lanka in March 2009 and has contributed to the modernization of the Sri Lanka Railways by reconstructing the entire railway network in th Northern Province (253 Km) and upgrading the Southern line (115 km). It has also contributed to ensuring safety and reliability through a modern signaling & telecommunication system on a 330 km stretch of the railway line.
India’s support to Sri Lanka under various LOCs has continued even after April 2022. Recently, 125 out of the 500 India-made Mahindra SUVs being supplied under an LoC were handed over to Sri Lanka Police. Similarly, 75 out of the 500 Ashok Leyland buses being supplied under an LoC were handed over to the Sri Lanka Transport Board last week.