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India to develop Jaffna's KKS harbour

As part of its ongoing efforts to rebuild the war-torn Tamil areas of Sri Lanka, India is to fund development of Kankasanthurai (KKS) harbour, the largest port in the Jaffna peninsula.

When its ready, the revamped port will make possible the easy transportation of goods and people between the island's north and nearby Tamil Nadu ports.

The Indian government will fund development of KKS in two stages, including repairs to the present breakwater and jetty, and the deepening of the harbour, as well as the building of a new breakwater.

In 2010, the Indian government agreed to assist Sri Lanka in the development of both Palali airport in Jaffna and the Kankesanthurai Port.

"The restoration of the Kankesanthurai harbour will provide a fillip to domestic and regional commerce in Sri Lanka. It will also result in increased connectivity and people-to-people contact between India and Sri Lanka, an objective to which both India and Sri Lanka are committed," said a statement issued by the Indian High Commission in Colombo in January.

At that time, India's Ministry of External Affairs signed an Agreement with RITES Limited for Consultancy Services on the preparation of a detailed project report and the conduct of geo-technical investigations for the rehabilitation of KKS Harbour.

Earlier this week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who holds the finance portfolio, presented to the cabinet the proposal to develop the harbour, Sugeeswara Senadhira, the Minister-Counsellor at the Sri Lankan High Commission in India said, according to Indian press reports.

Senadhira added that the Sri Lankan cabinet sanctioned the plan after the proposal was put forward by the President. "A Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian government is to be signed shortly," Senadhira told IANS.

KKS harbour is one of 10 sea and air entry points to Sri Lanka.

Its breakwater was severely damaged by the 2006 tsunami and the harbour also needs to be cleared of several shipwrecks from ships that sank off the KKS coast.

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