India’s external affairs minister SM Krishna on Thursday unveiled the first phase of a railway project in southern Sri Lanka that is being built with financial aid from the Indian government.
Krishna, on a four-day visit to this island nation since Monday, launched the 50 km rail track from Galle to Induruwa at a function at the Galle railway station, 116 km from Colombo.
The first phase of the project comprising the 42-km Galle-Matara section was completed in February 2011.
The project, being executed by the state-run Indian Railways Construction International Ltd (Ircon), involves reconstruction of rail lines, training of personnel from Sri Lankan Railways in India, procurement of rolling stock and building of maintenance sheds.
The second phase of the current project from this coastal city to Kaluthara, covering 72 km, is set to be completed in April.
During his first visit to Sri Lanka in November 2010 as minister, Krishna launched the construction of a rail project in the Tamil-dominated region of the country, with part funding by New Delhi ($800 million).
The project on the Pallai-Kankesanthurai railway line in Jaffna is to be completed by 2013.
“The Indian government is committed to work with the Sri Lankan government for consolidation of peace, prosperity and development of this country and enrichment of our bilateral ties,” Krishna said on the occasion.
Sri Lankan foreign minister GL Peiris, Transport Minister Kumar Welgama, his deputy Rohan Dissanayake, Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and Sri Lanka's envoy to India Prasad Kariyawasa were present on the occasion.