NEW DELHI: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe handed over some 404 houses built for Sri Lankan plantation workers of Indian origin on Saturday at the Dunsinane Estate in Punduloya, Nuwara Eliya District, in a special ceremony which was addressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conferencing.
The new houses, along with land ownership documents, were handed over to the beneficiaries by Wickremesinghe in the presence of Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu and several senior Sri Lankan ministers, including Minister for Hill country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, Palani Digambaram, Minister of Plantation Industries Navin Dissanayake, and Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms Gayantha Karunathilake. Earlier, a Letter of Exchange for construction of additional 10,000 houses in the plantation areas was signed by High Commissioner Sandhu and Palani Digambaram, as per Modi’s pledge during his visit to Sri Lanka in 2017.
Several MPs and members of the Central Provincial Council, senior government officials as well as officials from Plantation Human Development Trust, regional plantation companies and almost 1,500 people from the Dunsinane Estate also attended the function.
In his address, Modi congratulated the owners of the newly built independent houses.
Highlighting the uniqueness of the participatory owner-driven approach of the Indian housing project, where beneficiaries actively participate in building the houses, he pointed out that the Indian housing project in Sri Lanka, with a grant of over $350 million, was the largest Indian grant assistance project in any country.
Of the total commitment of 60,000 houses by India, close to 47,000 houses have already been built.
He also noted that the expansion of the pre-hospital emergency ambulance service all over Sri Lanka last month, and commencement of Air India flights from Colombo to Varanasi in August 2017.
PM Wickremesinghe thanks Modi
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said: “I thank the Prime Minister Modi. He has kept the promise he made last year.” During his visit to Sri Lanka in 2017, Modi had pledged to have the houses built.