India on Friday inaugurated a number of development projects in the northern province including a consulate in Jaffna in an attempt to reach out to the ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils thousands of whom continue to live in makeshift homes since the civil war ended in May, 2009.
Visiting Indian external affairs minister, SM Krishna, unveiled a $416 million railway project to revive railway links between parts of the Sinhalese-dominated central-north province with the Tamil-dominated districts of the northern province.
In Jaffna, Krishna handed over hundreds of tractors as part of the pledge to donate 500 of those vehicles to revive agriculture in the north.
Later, he inaugurated a pilot project to build 1,000 houses for the Tamils displaced by war. It was part of the 50,000 houses a government-affiliated Indian company would build in the next few years.
During his whirlwind four-stop tour, Krishna reiterated the need for a political settlement to Sri Lanka’s long-standing ethnic issue.
“We are convinced that a meaningful devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment (which India had pushed and signed with Sri Lanka in 1987), would create the necessary conditions for a lasting political settlement,” Krishna said.
India’s stress on the rapid development in the north could be seen as an attempt to counter the feeling among ethnic Tamils that New Delhi had deserted them and sided with Colombo.