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India aids $650mn infra project in Sri Lanka
May 14, 2013, 2:21 pm


The Indian government agreed to fund the project under a credit line extended to the Sri Lankan government in 2010 [AP]

In a bid to streamline access to the former war-torn north, the Sri Lankan government on Tuesday opened the first phase of a $650 million northern railway project after 30 years of suspension.

The project is funded by a line of credit by the Indian government.

The Sri Lankan government has sought to boost infrastructure development in the region ravaged by the civil war.

Minister for economic development Basil Rajapaksa, together with transport minister Kumara Welgama, inaugurated the long- awaited train services on the MedawachchiyaMadhu segment of the Northern Railway Track.

Commissioning the service, Rajapaksa said India had been with Sri Lanka at every stage of rehabilitation and reconstruction of north Sri Lanka.

Railway services to the north were suspended in 1983 after Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) blew up key railway bridges connecting the northern peninsula to the mainland.

Since the war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has set in motion plans to reconnect the north via rail and invited assistance from foreign countries.

In 2010, the Indian government agreed to fund the project under a credit line extended to the Sri Lankan government.

The project is being executed by the Indian Railway Ministry’s IRCON International Limited to restore the 252 km-railway line that would connect different parts of the country.

The reconstructed track is a 43 km long segment in the Northern Railway Line project covering a total length of 252 km, which was constructed at a total cost of $81.3 million.

“The railway tracks were completely destroyed during the devastating civil war, with train traffic being terminated for the last 23 years”  Ircon International general manager S L Gupta told media at the opening ceremony.

“The government of India has extended its support to the government of Sri Lanka to rebuild these tracks according to modern specifications. The total length of reconstruction is 252 km at an envisaged cost of 650 million US dollars, which will be completed in phases,” added Gupta.

The second phase of the track is to be completed in July, said Gupta

Source: Agencies