Sri Lanka and the State of Odisha in India have sought to further enhance connectivity between them, capitalising on the centuries-old strong historical linkages, a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
The possibility of further strengthening these ties was discussed when Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando visited the State of Odisha from August 24 to 27 and met with State authorities for discussions.
High Commissioner Fernando was in the State of Odisha on the invitation of Kalinga Institute of Technological Training (KIIT) and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) as the chief guest of the celebrations to mark the second anniversary of the KISS University in Bhubaneswar.
During his visit, High Commissioner Fernando called on Odisha Governor Prof. Ganesh Lal, State Minister (Independent Charge) of Tourism, Odia Language, Literature and Culture Jyothi Prakash Panigrahi and Chief Secretary to the State of Odisha, Asit Tripathy.
The envoy’s discussions with State authorities centred around possible ways of enhancing connectivity between Sri Lanka and the State of Odisha and promoting people-to-people contacts, leveraging historical ties between the two lands. In this context, the Odisha State Government authorities requested High Commissioner Fernando to explore the possibility of starting direct flights between Colombo and the State capital, Bhubaneswar. The two sides also discussed ways of mutually promoting the Ramayana Trail sites in Sri Lanka and the Buddhist sites in Odisha.
Attending the second-anniversary celebrations of KISS University, High Commissioner Fernando delivered a speech and later met with KITT founder and KISS Prof. Achyuta Samantha, Vice-Chancellor of KISS Prof. H.K. Satapathy, Director-General of International Relations Debraj Pradhan and Director of International Relations Rajan Gengaje.
High Commissioner Fernando also met with the 17 Sri Lankan students who have recently entered KITT under fully-funded scholarships awarded by the Indian Government and KITT.
The High Commissioner visited and paid obeisance at the Bhubaneswar Centre of Mahabodhi Society of India where he met the President of Mahabodhi Centre of Odisha, former Vice-Chancellor Dr. Bimalendu Mohanty and its Secretary Dr. Sourendra Kumar Mohapatra. He also visited Buddhist sites in Bhubaneswar such as Ratnagiri, Lalitagiri, Daulagiri and Udayagiri as well as famous Hindu religious sites in Konark, Puri and Bhubaneswar: Sun Temple, Lingraj Temple and Muktheeswara Temple.
Counsellor to the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi, Achini Perera was also associated with the visit and the meetings.