India-assisted SL rail link becomes operational

The 19-km rail link between this southern Sri Lankan town and Hikkaduwa upgraded with Indian assistance was made operational Thursday by External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.

Updated: Jan 19, 2012, 12:51 PM IST

Galle: The 19-km rail link between this southern Sri Lankan town and Hikkaduwa upgraded with Indian assistance was made operational Thursday by External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.

On the last day of his four-day visit to Sri Lanka,
Krishna flew into this town by a helicopter from capital
Colombo and inaugurated the section reconstructed as part of
the Southern Coastal Railway Line in the presence of his
counterpart G L Peiris and Transport Minister Kumara Welgama.

The reconstructed Galle-Matara segment was opened in
February 2011 for high-speed passenger train transport while
the second phase of construction of the 19-kilometer segment
between Galle and Hikkaduwa commenced at the same time.

The railway line was reconstructed by Indian Railway
Construction Company Limited (IRCON) and India has pledged a
line of credit (LoC) of USD 167.4 million for this project.

The LoC involves reconstruction of railway lines, training of personnel from Sri Lanka Railways in India, procurement of rolling stock and building of maintenance sheds.
"Phase-one of this project, comprising the Galle-Matar section was completed in February, 2011. I am glad to note
that Phase-II of the project which involves the section from
Galle to Kaluthara, will be completed on schedule, by April
this year," Krishna said after the inauguration.

The Minister also expressed the hope that all projects
relating to reconstruction of the Northern Railway line by
IRCON being funded under an Indian credit line of USD 800
million will be completed by the end of 2013.

It is perhaps the first time any Indian leader is
visiting this part of Sri Lanka. Krishna had yesterday visited
Kilinochchi and Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka and handed over
the first lot of houses built by India there.

During his talks with the top leadership including
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Krishna stressed that political
settlement of Tamils and a solution that answers the genuine
aspirations of the community was the "most important" issue
before the country.

He also asked Sri Lanka to "seize" the opportunity to
implement recommendations of a post-war committee to achieve
"genuine" national reconciliation and stressed that the
dialogue between government and TNA was important for
achieving a political solution.

PTI