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India’s help for Lanka’s LTTE-freed areas

[PTI, Sunday, 16 August 2009 10:03 No Comment]

With de-mining of north Sri Lanka gaining momentum, India is sending a team of agriculture experts there to assist in activation of farming in the areas that have been freed from the LTTE control.

The team, to be led by a crop scientist of Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), is expected to travel to Sri Lanka by the end of this month.

The agriculture experts will assess the soil condition, irrigation facilities and weather conditions among other aspects to determine how farming could be started in the areas freed from LTTE control, sources told PTI here.

The timing of the visit has been chosen in view of the coming crop season.

The team will determine requirements for activation of farming in those areas so that follow-up assistance could be extended by India which is set for a massive rehabilitation and reconstruction agenda in the Tamil-dominated areas, they said.

The government has also roped in noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan and he is being consulted in the effort to activate farming in north Sri Lanka.

Activation of farming activities is one of the first steps aimed at providing livelihood to locals.

The effort to start farming coincides with the progress being made in de-mining by India of the areas that have been freed from LTTE control.

Four Indian teams, each comprising 50 experts, are currently engaged in clearing north Sri Lanka of mines that had been planted by fleeing LTTE.

India will also be helping in resurrection of railway network in north Sri Lanka that has been damaged during LTTE control of the area. The two countries are discussing the specific projects that India can take up in this regard.

At the same time, a temporary hospital operated by India in Vavuniya is being wound up after six months of service.

The 100-bedded hospital that was set up soon after the war between the Sri Lankan army and LTTE got over, has treated nearly 27,000 patients.

India is also undertaking reconstruction activities in Sri Lanka’s Eastern province, which too is Tamil-dominated.

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