New Delhi, Aug 10: "Sri Lanka will always remain special to India", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday after handing over the first lot of houses built for Indian-origin people in Sri Lanka's tea plantation areas.
Prime Minister Modi joined a special ceremony through video conference at Dunsinane Estate, Nuwara Eliya to hand over the houses built under the Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas.
Modi said that India wants peaceful and secure future for Sri Lanka where aspirations for development are met.
"Hopeful that additional 10000 houses would be constructed in shortest possible time.Out of our commitment for 60000 houses in SriLanka, completed close to 47000 houses so far..Indian Housing Project in SriLanka with grant of over US$350 mn is one of the largest Indian grant assistance project in any country.SriLanka is special for us and will remain so," he said.
It is the largest Indian assistance project in any country with a grant of over USD 350 million. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe thanked his Indian counterpart for the assistance.
"I thank Prime Minister Modi. He has kept the promise he made last year," Wickremesinghe said. Modi said that India continues to keep Sri Lanka in a special place in its neighbourhood first policy.
Some 404 houses were handed over at the central district of Nuwara Eliya. Out of the 60,000 houses, close to 47,000 have been completed so far, Modi said, adding that the USD 350 million grant to build the houses was one of the largest grants by India in any country.
Wickremesinghe, recalling the historical links between India and Sri Lanka, said Modi's suggestion today to establish direct air links between Colombo and Varanasi to facilitate pilgrims from Sri Lanka is most welcomed.