External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary Renu Pall said that problems relating to fishing were discussed between India and Sri Lanka yesterday at the Joint Commission talks and both sides agreed to look at the issue from the livelihood and humanitarian points of view and come to an “innovative solution.”
Scores of Tamil Nadu fishermen and their boats are now in detention in Lanka on charges of poaching.
Meanwhile a team from the Indian Air Force will be visiting Palaly in the Jaffna Peninsula to upgrade the air force base and civilian airport there. To improve sea links with South India, the fifth and sixth stages of the upgrading of the Kankesanthurai port in Jaffna district will also be undertaken, Pall said.
An added dimension in Lanka-India defense cooperation will be counter-terrorism, Joint Secretary Pall said. There will be cooperation in the aeronautical field also with Lankans using the Indian Gagan satellite system.
In the economic sphere, the Joint Commission discussed the establishment of a Special Economic Zone for India in Trincomalee in Eastern Lanka. A delegation of the Indian Railway construction company RITES will be visiting Lanka to discuss rail upgrading projects.There is already an Indian credit line of US dollars 400 million for railway work in Lanka.
The much-delayed Indo-Lankan joint venture to build a 500 mw power plant in Sampur seems to be making progress with environment clearance coming a couple of days ago, Pall observed. The use of the giant oil tanks in Trincomalee was also raised. Progress in this had been tardy.
The proposed Economic And Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) was discussed in the light of Lankan fears about Indian domination.It was agreed to hold a workshop this month in Colombo on the ETCA to clear doubts. The India-Lanka CEO’s Forum would also meet to discuss ways of increasing private sector investment in the two countries,Pall said.
Two MoUs were also signed – one to renovate 27 war destroyed schools in the Northern Province and the other to supply medical and surgical equipment to the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital in the East.
Joint Secretary Pall described the current state of India-Lanka relations as a ” wide ranging and transformative one.” (Colombo Gazette)