India to assist Lanka in development of air base in Jaffna

India will assist Sri Lanka in the development of the crucial Palaly air base and the Kanakesanthurai port in Jaffna peninsula, as the country works to rebuild the war-torn Tamil-dominated North.

Updated: Apr 30, 2010, 17:01 PM IST

Colombo: India will assist Sri Lanka in the
development of the crucial Palaly air base and the
Kanakesanthurai port in Jaffna peninsula, as the country works
to rebuild the war-torn Tamil-dominated North.

"Indian government`s help has been sought for development
of the Palaly air base and the KKS port projects. India has
said it will consider providing assistance for these two
projects," Sri Lankan government sources said.

The crucial Palaly air base is the nerve centre of Sri
Lanka`s military presence in the Tamil-dominated Jaffna
peninsula.

The air base served as the main lifeline to Jaffna as
there was no land supply route to the peninsula until 2009.

Till then much of the essential food items, medicines as
well as ammunition was brought regularly via air to the Palaly
base.

The Sri Lankan air force through its organisation called
"Helitours" offers scheduled commercial flights to Palaly in
Jaffna and China Bay in Eastern Trincomalee.

The state-owned Daily News today said the Indian
Government has agreed to assist Sri Lanka in development of
the Palaly airport and Kankesanthurai Port.

"Indian High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha conveyed this
decision to Prime Minister D M Jayaratne when he called on the
Prime Minister to congratulate him on his assumption of office
and have discussions yesterday," the newspaper said.

Quoting a statement by Sri Lankan Prime Minister`s
office, the paper said the Indian government always desired to
widen economic, social and cultural ties with Sri Lanka at all
times.

India was also willing to assist Sri Lanka in its
resettlement programme in the North, it said.

Prime Minister D M Jayaratne also recalled with gratitude
the timely assistance given to Sri Lanka by India.

"Indian assistance was much needed at this juncture when
Sri Lanka is striving to achieve economic development after
eradicating terrorism," the paper quoted the statement.

According to a statement by the Indian High Commission
here, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister and Kantha discussed the
friendly ties between the two countries.

During the meeting, they discussed ways and means of
further strengthening relations between the two countries and
discussed other matters of bilateral interest, it said.

It may be recalled that recently the Sri Lankan
authorities put in place a refurbished 12000 ton capacity fuel
storage tank at Kankesanthurai port.
This was to enable cutting the costs previously incurred
by the government as a result of long delays in the turnover
of ships in Kankesanthurai due to the lack of a fuel storage
tank facility.

PTI