Government of India has announced 66 million Sri Lankan Rupees scheme to 'develop' communication between the eastern coastal cities, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, in such a way that the two traditional Tamil cities will be effectively linked to the Sinhala districts than with each other, reported TamilNet.
While even the shortest coastal road link between the cities are neglected of development for decades now, the Indian plan is to help Colombo running rail-buses between the cities through the colonial cum Sinhala state railway track that goes in a circular way through the Sinhala districts outside of Eastern Province.
The Eastern Province Railbus Project was formally inaugurated in Batticaloa by the High Commissioner of India, Shri Alok Prasad, the Sri Lankan Minister of Transport, with the Dullas Alahapperuma, and Basil Rajapaksa, Senior Advisor to the President. Also present on the occasion were the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Ministers Ameer Ali and V. Muralitharan, the Mayor of Batticaloa, Sivageetha Prabhaharan and Eastern Province Minister MLAM Hizbullah.
“The project aims to provide a quick and affordable avenue of transport between Batticaloa and Trincomalee by converting conventional buses to run on existing rail tracks,” said the press release.
“The Government of India has accordingly provided ten buses (at a cost of SLR 44 million) to Sri Lanka Railways and also made available an additional SLR 22 million to pay for the cost of conversion of these buses into 5 railbus units in the Sri Lanka Railways workshops in Ratmalana,” it said.
“The project is a manifestation of Government of India’s commitment to the development of the Eastern Province and its desire to contribute to the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in building up infrastructure in the Province, so as to assure an early return to normalcy and stability in the lives of the people,” the press release noted.
Meanwhile, the South African government could cooperate with India in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka, Deputy Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim has said.
Ebrahim was the chief guest at a fund-raising dinner organised by the Tamil Federation of Gauteng in Johannesburg on August 1 to send humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Tamils currently housed in camps on the island.
The Minister said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been advised by the South African government that there was "a window of opportunity" to have a political solution to the international question of Sri Lanka.