COLOMBO: Sushma Swaraj, leader of the Indian parliamentary team now visiting Sri Lanka, announced on Friday that 4,000 houses would be constructed for the plantation workers of Indian origin in Central Sri Lanka this year.
Speaking at a public meeting in Hatton in the Central provincial district of Nuwara Eliya on Friday, Swaraj said that India had “special sentiments” for the Indian Origin Tamils of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka has over one million Tamils of Indian Origin, who are mainly workers in the tea and rubber plantations of the Central and Southern provinces. However, a growing section of them are in trade, the services and other professions, especially in Colombo.
Swaraj said the focus of the Indian aided projects were on housing, education, health and transportation. She told the large audience of about 3,000 people that the 150-bed multi specialty hospital at Dickoya would be completed in early 2013.
She urged the Indian Origin Tamils to take advantage of various Indian government schemes which were specially designed for them. The educational schemes, especially, would help their upward mobility in Sri Lankan society, she said.
The 12-member Indian MP’s delegation later visited the eastern Sri Lankan town of Batticaloa, where they saw the work being done by the Indian institution, SEWA, to help local war widows stand on their own legs by acquiring technical and entrepreneurial skills. The MPs saw the women making various articles, including jams and solar lanterns. About 800 widows are being trained in this centre.