Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai will arrive in Sri Lanka on Saturday October 8, 2011, on a three-day visit, his first since he took over the top foreign service post in September 2011.
Mr. Mathai will call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and political leaders, including Opposition Leader in Parliament Ranil Wickramasinghe, and representatives of the major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance.
He will also review developmental projects being taken up in various parts of the war- ravaged North under the assistance of the Indian government. He is expected to have a close look at the slow progress of the Indian Housing project for the war-affected Tamils.
Though the foundation stone for the housing project was laid in November last, progress in building houses has been impeded by various factors, including the size of the project, the coordination difficulties between the entities involved in the project execution, and contractor-related issues. As a result, even the pilot project relating to 1000 houses is not yet complete.
New Delhi is to build 50,000 houses for the Tamils, who are being rehabilitated. The other problem is that since the Indian housing project is better in facilities and comfort, reports have indicated that most Tamils would rather wait for it than taking up the first housing offer that came their way.
Mr. Mathai will also inspect the progress of the Northern Railway project, which will connect the northern province with Colombo and other parts. The IRCON-project was off the blocks last year, and has since seen significant progress.
The entire alignment of the earlier railway line disappeared after Tamil Tigers stripped the track off and used the steel to build bunkers and other war-related equipment.
Wreckage at KKS
The last project that Mr. Mathai will review is the Kankesanthurai harbour project. The harbour was rendered useless after Tamil Tigers sunk ships inside the harbour and the mouth of the harbour in the nineties. India had handed over the $19-million work to the Singapore arm of a U.S.-based firm.
The firm has now spotted an additional four wrecks inside the port. Even with the additional wrecks, High Commissioner Ashok K.Kantha is confident that the firm will not overshoot the deadline significantly. India and the firm are negotiating the price for removing the newly-discovered wreckage. (Source: The Hindu)