The construction work to build 144 intermediate housing units for Madhu pilgrims was commenced at the Madhu Church premises in Mannar on Thursday yesterday under the patronage of Indian High Commissioner Dr. Gopal Bagle, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and Bishop of Mannar Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Fernando.
The total cost for the project is estimated at Rs. 300 million and is built with the assistance of the Indian Government.
Noting that the project will further strengthen the longstanding friendship between India and Sri Lanka, the Tourism Minister thanked the Indian Government for its generosity to grant Rs. 300 million for the construction of 144 housing units at Madhu Church premises.
Recalling the longstanding relationship, Indian High Commissioner also said India would extend its support to Sri Lanka at any challenging situation.
“India will continue to support projects that will benefit the general public and the development process of Sri Lanka,” he added. The High Commissioner also assured that all necessary steps would be taken to further strengthen the centuries-old friendship between the two neighbouring countries.
The Tourism Minister said the Government was preparing to resume direct flights from Jaffna to Chennai, which were suspended due to the COVID pandemic.
“India is the largest source market for tourist traffic to Sri Lanka. However, due to the pandemic, tourists from India have stopped. The Indian High Commission recently suggested an air-travel bubble to resume tourism and we also expressed our agreement for that. We look forward to launch the program in the immediate future, whilst resuming direct flights between Jaffna and Chennai,” Ranatunga said.
The Minister also said that there are plans to launch domestic flights between Ratmalana, Jaffna and Batticaloa soon.
“We are in the process of launching domestic flights to Ratmalana, Jaffna and Batticaloa. Our goal is to develop the Jaffna and Batticaloa Airports as international airports. We appreciate India’s support for the development of the Jaffna Airport,” Ranatunga said. Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi and officials from the Indian High Commission also participated at the event.