(Text of Press Release Issued by the High Commission of India in Colombo Regarding the Visit of Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay to Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka)
The second day of the High Commissioner’s visit to the Northern Province saw emphasis on connectivity – cultural, civilisational, contemporary and commercial.
The High Commissioner visited Kankesanthurai (KKS) harbour and took stock of the project to rehabilitate it with Government of India’s assistance of US Dollar 45.27 million. When completed, the project will enable movement of goods and ferry from Kankesanthurai to India.
The High Commissioner visited Palaly airport. In light of the readiness of the Government of Sri Lanka to resume flights between Jaffna and Chennai and also reopen Palaly for domestic flights within Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner saw the facilities created there for international flights, which had been discontinued last year due to COVID-19 pandemic. He also discussed expansion of the infrastructure at the airport in view of existing and growing requirements to enhance air connectivity with India, including for promotion of trade, such as Sri Lanka’s exports to India and through India to other destinations.
A number of practical suggestions were made at the breakfast interaction the High Commissioner had with leading businesspersons. They pertained to, inter alia, promoting investment from India in infrastructure, energy and manufacturing, skills development, agriculture and food processing, fisheries and tourism. The High Commissioner reiterated India’s readiness to support all such mutually beneficial initiatives. He emphasized that enhancing sea and air connectivity, through development of the KKS Harbour and expansion of the Palaly airport will bring greater economic benefits and prosperity to the region.
The High Commissioner met the Mayor of Jaffna V. Manivannan and visited with him Jaffna Cultural Centre – the iconic landmark built under India’s grant assistance. The towering building, whose design celebrates close architectural and cultural links with India, is intended to serve as a people-centric hub of cultural activities that reinforce civilisation heritage and cross-Strait ties. Discussions of the High Commissioner at the Centre included various aspects of its functioning under joint management after early inauguration.
The High Commissioner offered tributes at the Statues of Goddess Saraswathi – the presiding deity of learning and wisdom- and saint poet Thiruvalluvar at the entrance of Jaffna Public Library. He also visited India Corner at the Library which celebrates the linguistic, literary and educational links with India. High Commissioner appreciated the respectful commemoration in the India Corner of the life and works of Babasaheb Dr B. R. Ambedkar – widely regarded as the Father of the Indian Constitution and a crusader for the rights of the underprivileged and minorities. He paid floral tribute to late President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.
India’s close connect and cooperation for development of human resources in Sri Lanka was brought out during the ceremony to open school buildings at Ramanathan College, Jaffna. The High Commissioner stressed the central place of quality education -especially for girls and women – for inclusive development and ensuring social, economic and political justice and equality.
The interaction of the High Commissioner with a few prominent media persons over a luncheon hosted by the Consul General of India in Jaffna brought out the significance of freedom of speech and expression for democracy. The suggestion to establish a platform for regular interaction of media with the Consulate was welcomed.
Earlier in the day, the High Commissioner offered prayers at Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, one of the most revered religious places in Sri Lanka. He also paid respects to Sri La Sri Somasunthara Gnanasampantha Paramachariya Swamigal and other prominent Hindu spiritual leaders and sought their blessings for the efforts to strengthen traditionally friendly and close ties between India and Sri Lanka and the two peoples.
Solemn remembrance marked the ceremony at the IPKF memorial where High Commissioner, Security Forces Commander Major General Priyantha Perera, other senior Officers of Sri Lankan Army paid homage to the fallen heroes of India Army who embraced the supreme sacrifice for the cause of peace in Sri Lanka. In a brief meeting thereafter at Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna High Commissioner and the Special Forces Commander discussed the growing cooperation between Armed Forces of the two countries, which serves to enhance security in our shared region and is marked by camaraderie.
The High Commissioner interacted with officials of the Consulate General of India in Jaffna and their families and thanked them for their hard work in promoting India-Sri Lanka relations in all spheres.