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Palaly, KKS development to commence next week

The development of Palaly airport and the sea port at Kankesanthurai (KKS) is to commence next week on February 15, the Jaffna District Secretariat’s office said on Tuesday. 

The development projects, which are to be a joint Indian and Sri Lankan venture, have been stuck in the discussion stage for several years, despite the armed conflict ending 10 years ago. 

As recently as last month, India's ministry of external affairs (MEA) had not approved a report on the project due to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) citing political instability on the island, following last year's turmoil. 

The decision to develop the sites together with India has proved contentious to the Sri Lankan politicians and voters, with the country's transport minister taking pains to reassure parliament last September that the site was not being 'handed over' to India. 

The first stage of the development projects is expected to take 15 months. 

Palaly is currently occupied by Sri Lankan military forces who have the area, vast sections of which are occupied civilian land, as a High Security Zone within which they operate an air base and headquarters.  

An airline service between Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Palaly is expected to be the first service from the newly renovated airport. 

India is expected to provide US$ 45.27 billion for the development of Kankesanthurai sea port. Sri Lanka's cabinet has approved Rs 2 billion. 

Cabinet approval has already been granted to carry out the development project at a cost of Rs 2 billion.