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India to open Consulate-General offices in Jaffna, Hambantota

[Hindu, Saturday, 21 August 2010 07:56 No Comment]

Sri Lanka and India on Friday exchanged notes to establish two Indian Consulate-General offices, in Jaffna town and in Hambantota in deep south.

Sri Lanka is to add a fourth Consulate-General office in an Indian city. It already has the High Commission in New Delhi, the Deputy High Commissioner’s office in Chennai and a Consulate in Mumbai.

The proposed Indian Consulate-General office in Jaffna will cover the five districts of the war-ravaged Northern Province — Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaithivu, Vavuniya and Mannar. Pending formal opening of the Consulate office, India has already established a visa office in Jaffna.

The proposed Consulate-General of India office in Hambantota, where the Chinese are developing a strategically important harbour, will cover the districts of Galle, Matara, Hambantota and Moneragala. Hambantota is the home constituency of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The formal notes on the new consulates were signed by External Affairs Ministry Secretary C.R. Jayasinghe on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, and Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Ashok K. Kantha. It has also been agreed upon that any expansion of the consular districts of the proposed Consulates-General could be considered subsequently through mutual consent.

The Government of India has welcomed Sri Lanka’s interest in establishing a further post in India, in addition to those in Chennai and in Mumbai functioning under the High Commission of Sri Lanka in New Delhi.

An official statement here said Mr. Jayasinghe had stated that the opening of the two Indian Consulate offices would further strengthen the close and cordial relations between Sri Lanka and India and the people-to-people contact was important for the two countries.

Mr. Kantha, appreciating the support extended by the island nation, said Sri Lanka was an important country with which India had continued to have historical contacts.

Mr. Kantha said the opening of the two new Consulates in Sri Lanka would further expand ties and he looked forward to working closely with the Sri Lankan authorities.

Railway work

Separately, a ceremony was held on Thursday to mark the inauguration of the upgradation of the coastal railway line on the Galle-Matara sector. The function was held at Weligama and was attended by Mr. Kantha and Kumara Welgama, Minister of Transport. India is assisting in the rehabilitation of the Colombo-Matara rail link through a line of credit of $167.4 million. Work on Phase 1 of the project in Galle-Matara Section (42 km) is likely to be completed by December 2010.

The work on Phase II in the Galle-Colombo section has also started and the full quantity of rails will be reaching the Colombo port.

A statement by the Indian mission here said Mr. Kantha, speaking on the occasion, reiterated India’s deep commitment to contributing to the reconstruction and upgradation of railway infrastructure in Sri Lanka.

[Full Coverage]

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