Galle, Jan 19 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Thursday handed over to Sri Lanka the Galle-Hikkaduwa segment of the Southern Railway project built with Indian assistance.
"I am delighted to be in this wonderful and historic city of Galle, to formally hand over the completed section of the Galle-Hikkaduwa railway track. Today's ceremony marks the timely completion of this section, which is part of the Southern railway line executed by IRCON International Ltd, a leading Indian company in railway infrastructure," Krishna said after handing over to Sri Lanka the Galle-Hikkaduwa segment.
"As part of our effort to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in the reconstruction of the Southern Railway coastal project, the Government of India had pledged a line of credit of 167.4 million dollars. This involves reconstruction of railway lines, training of personnel from Sri Lanka Railways in India, procurement of rolling stock and building of maintenance sheds," he added.
Further informing that the phase-one of this project, comprising the Galle-Matara Section, was completed in February 2011, Krishna said: "I am glad to note that Phase Two of the project, which involves the section from Galle to Kaluthara, will be completed on schedule, by April this year."
"I recall that, during my visit to Sri Lanka in November 2010, I had launched the construction work for the Northern Railway Project. I am happy to note that work is progressing as per schedule. We expect all the projects relating to rehabilitation of the Northern Railway line by IRCON, being funded under an Indian Credit line of 800 million dollars, to be completed by the end of 2013," he added.
Emphasising that India remains committed to working with Sri Lanka for consolidation of peace, prosperity and development and for the further enrichment of our bilateral ties, Krishna said: "I would also like to take this opportunity to share with you today another initiative by the Government of India to assist in developing human resources in Sri Lanka. I am happy to announce a substantial increase in India's educational assistance, amounting to 2.5 billion Sri Lankan Rupees in grant-funding, to assist meritorious Sri Lankan students."
"Under this programme, scholarships and self-financing slots for undergraduate, masters and doctorate-level courses will be increased to nearly 270 per year. This marks a three-fold increase, and includes 120 slots for undergraduate courses, 25 seats for IT engineering, 50 slots for Masters-level courses, and 40 slots for a highly-subsidized self-financing scheme. In addition, support for deserving students pursuing their GCE 'A' level and University degrees in Sri Lankan institutions has been expanded to cover about 500 students every year," he added.
He further said that this new initiative is being undertaken as part of our commitment under the "India-Sri Lanka Knowledge Initiative" launched by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his visit to India in June, 2010.
"I am confident that the expanded scholarship programme will go a long way in further cementing our educational ties. The reconstruction of transport-related infrastructure will enhance connectivity, in addition to generating and supporting livelihood-related activities, not only within the Southern and Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country," he added. (ANI)
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