As a Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla is on a maiden four-day visit to Sri Lanka

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Monday called on the island country’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and held a productive discussion on further consolidating the multifaceted India-Sri Lanka partnership.

Maintaining about it, the Indian High Commission in Colombo tweeted: “Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called on Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister today and had a productive discussion on further consolidating the multifaceted India-Sri Lanka partnership.

At the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, Foreign Secretary Shringla is on a four-day visit to the island country.

Earlier in his remarks at the inauguration of Indian Development Cooperation Projects at Temple Trees in Colombo, the Foreign Secretary said in the past one year, India has strengthened its credentials of being a net security provider and first responder in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) situations in the wider Indian Ocean Region.

“India was happy to respond to Sri Lanka’s requests in recent cases of fire and marine pollution in its waters. The Indian Navy also deployed its assets for rapid delivery of medical grade oxygen to Sri Lanka in August to deal with its COVID situation,” the Foreign Secretary said.

He added India kept its air space open for travel for specific and urgent medical needs of Sri Lanka, during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

The Foreign Secretary further added that with the easing of the situation in Sri Lanka, it may be opportune for India to work on connectivity initiatives like the Jaffna to Chennai flight, ferry services between Karaikal and Kankesanthurai and Dhanushkodi and Talaimanar and the Buddhist corridor with the new international airport at Kushinagar.

With regard to India’s developmental assistance to the island nation, he said in the immediate aftermath of 2009, India had commenced its housing Project in Sri Lanka. Over time, this project has become an integral part of development cooperation partnership between India and Sri Lanka.

“Today, we are dedicating 1235 houses in the third phase of the Indian Housing Project which is spread across the hill country,” the Foreign Secretary said.

“The other projects, namely, the Model Housing Village at Vavuniya District, school building at Vadamaraddchi in Jaffna and the Saraswathy Central College building in Pussellwa, also reflect the people centric benefits of our development cooperation,” he said, adding these projects employ local companies, local material and labour in their execution.

With regard to other India assisted projects in the country, he said in the coming months, India and Sri Lanka will be able to complete some of the remaining projects like Dambulla Cold Storage plant, trilingual school at Polonnaruwa and the School of Kandyan Dancing at Pallekele whose progress had been impeded by the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 and the attendant administrative challenges.

The Foreign Secretary said India will also support the development of facilities for tourists and pilgrims at sites associated with the Ramayana circuit in Sri Lanka.