Colombo, July 23 (newsin.asia): The Indian External Affairs Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar lauded the India-funded Sri Lankan Emergency Ambulance Service as it achieved all-island coverage on Sunday.
Speaking over video from New Delhi, Dr. Jaishankar spoke about his personal connection with the project since its inception, and said that the service has become a “brand in itself.”
The Emergency Ambulance Service (EAS), which is being run with a grant of US$ 22. 7 million from India, became an all-island service with extension to Ampara in Eastern Sri Lanka, on Sunday.
“The island-wide expansion of the Emergency Ambulance Service is complete. The service is now available in all nine Provinces of Sri Lanka,” the Indian High Commission declared in a statement
The service in Ampara was inaugurated by the Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu; Minister of Primary Industries Daya Gamage; Minister of Economic Reforms Dr.Harsha de Silva; and Deputy Minister for Petroleum Resources Development Anoma Gamage.
Indian Foreign Minister Dr. Jaishankar is an experienced Sri Lanka hand, having served in the Indian High Commission in Colombo from 1988 to 1990 as First Secretary and political advisor to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF.
Having visited the island nation several times, Dr.Jaishankar is very familiar with Lankan personalities across the political and ethnic spectrum and is cued into developments in the island nation.
In his long and illustrious career as a diplomat, Dr. Jaishankar has served in Sri Lanka, Russia and Japan . He was India’s Ambassador to United States of America, China, Czech Republic and High Commissioner to Singapore.
Dr.Jaishankar was responsible for implementing Prime Minister Modi’s “Neighborhood First” policy and increased engagement with regional initiatives like the Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
He was also instrumental in encouraging India’s people-oriented development projects in Sri Lanka.
“Spirit of India Is Spirit of Sharing”
In his address at the inaugural, Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu said that the project “symbolizes the spirit of India, which is nothing but the spirit of sharing.”
He also reiterated that India will forever remain the “First Responder for Sri Lanka.”
It was during the visit of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka in March 2015, that a request was made by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to launch a pre-hospital emergency ambulance service in Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, the “1990” Emergency Ambulance Service was launched in Southern and Western Provinces in July 2016 under an Indian grant of US$ 7.5 million. This grant covered purchase of 88 ambulances, operational expenditure of the service for one year and setting up of an emergency response center.
Given the positive impact of the project, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe requested the Prime Minister of India for extension of the Emergency Ambulance Service all across the island.
Prime Minister Modi then announced the expansion the ambulance service island-wide under a Government of India grant assistance during his visit to Sri Lanka in May 2017.
An additional grant amount of US$ 15.02 million was provided by India to undertake island-wide expansion which covered the purchase of 209 ambulances, operational expenditure of the service for one year and training costs.
The island-wide Emergency Ambulance Service was started with the launch in Jaffna in July 2018 wherein Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi joined Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe through a live video conference from New Delhi.
The service has been available in Northern Province since July 2018; in Uva since August 2018; in North Central Province since September 2018; in North Western Province since October 2018; Central Province since November 2018; and in Sabaragamuwa Province since January 2019.
The Indian High Commission said that the service has been well appreciated, given the quick response time, efficiency of operations, and employment and training involving local people.
“The emergency ambulance service which can be obtained by simply dialing the toll free number: ‘1990’ on any network in Sri Lanka, is the largest Indian grant project in Sri Lanka after the Indian Housing Project.”
“India remains committed to further strengthening the bilateral partnership with Sri Lanka based on Sri Lanka’s own choices and priorities and through effective implementation of people-oriented projects,” the High Commission said.
(The featured image at the top shows the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr.S.Jaishankar speaking over video from New Delhi)