Krishna flies to Jaffna to assist ethnic Tamils


    By Fakir Balaji

    Colombo, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Wednesday flew from by chopper to Kilinochchi on way to Jaffna in the northern province of Sri Lanka to meet ethnic Tamils.

    He will gift medical equipment to the district general hospital at Kilinochchi on the third day of his four-day visit after fruitful official talks Tuesday with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister D.M. Jayarathna and his counterpart G.L. Peiris in this scenic capital.

    “Krishna will hand over a school repaired with Indian financial assistance at Sivapathakalaiyagam near Kilinochchi and proceed to Jaffna for a luncheon meeting with northern province governor Maj Gen (retd) G.A. Chandrasiri,” an Indian High Commission official told IANS here.

    In the post-armed conflict era, India has been engaged in the rehabilitation of about 300,000 Tamil-speaking minorities who have been living in camps set up for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the northern, central and eastern provinces.

    “With a robust programme of assistance to help the IDPs return to normal life at the earliest, we have already provided about 250,000 family relief packages and have set up an emergency medical unit in the camps,” the official said.

    In the Jaffna province, the minister will hand over about 50 houses built under a pilot project to the Tamil beneficiaries in Nalavadi near Ariyalai in the northern region and gift about 10,000 bicycles to IDPs.

    Krishna will also mark the completion of wreck removal works at KKS Harbour in the port city before flying back to the capital late evening.

    Of the four agreements India and Sri Lanka signed Tuesday in the presence of Krishna and Peiris, two are related to the funding of the ambitious housing project with a $260 million line of credit to build about 49,000 units in the strife-torn region for the IDPs and the restoration of the northern railway services with $382 million credit from Exim (export and import) Bank of India.

    The restoration will involve laying of tracks on the Pallai-Kankesanthurai railway line, setting up of signalling and telecom systems for the Northern Railway line. (IANS)