The High Commission of India in Colombo and relevant authorities of the Government of Sri Lanka held a series of meetings during the last two weeks to review the status of select ongoing development cooperation projects.

The two sides paid particular attention to the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions and identified joint efforts to fast track the completion of the projects as they would benefit the people of Sri Lanka in the current juncture, the Indian High Commission said in a press release.

On 5 January 2021, Deputy High Commissioner Vinod K Jacob and Mrs. Bhadrani Jayawardhana, Secretary, Ministry of Internal Trade, Food Security and Consumer Welfare co-chaired the Project Steering Committee meeting on design, construction and commissioning of the 5000 MT temperature controlled warehouse in Dambulla. Earlier, on 24 December 2020, Deputy High Commissioner and Dr. Kapila Perera, Secretary, Ministry of Education co-chaired the Project Steering Committee meeting on the Project for renovation of 27 schools in the Northern Province under Indian assistance.

This meeting was held through virtual mode and also had participation from Secretary, Provincial Ministry of Education, Northern Province Mr. Ilangavon. Progress on finalization of the Project for construction of 3200 sanitation units in Batticaloa was achieved during the meeting between Deputy High Commissioner Jacob and A. Senanayake Secretary, State Ministry for Backward Rural Areas Development and Promotion of Domestic Animal Husbandry and Minor Economic Crop Cultivation on 17 December 2020.  

These projects are in continuation of Government of India’s people-oriented development cooperation partnership with Government of Sri Lanka. India’s overall commitment of development assistance to Sri Lanka stands at a total of around US$ 3.5 billion and among these, US$ 560 million is under grants. India has undertaken more than 70 people-oriented development projects in various fields including health, education, housing, skill development, infrastructure, vocational training among others, all across the country. About, 20 such projects are currently under progress.

During his recent visit to Colombo, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar had discussed with the Sri Lankan leadership the potential for further cooperation in development partnership.

In his statement to the press following talks with Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, EAM said, " India has a solid record as a development partner of Sri Lanka in the social, community and human resources sectors. Whether it is in mass housing or ambulance services, heritage conservation or education, our partnerships have made a real difference to the lives of the people all over the island. Our Lines of Credit have re-built connectivity, facilitating the restoration of normalcy. We are cognizant of the domestic priorities of the Sri Lankan Government, including in agriculture and technology, education and skill development and urban development. In particular, we understand the importance President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Government of Sri Lanka attach to the establishment of vocational training centres. We will naturally be guided by these priorities in our future endeavours."

It may be recalled that on 10 November 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP) under Indian grant assistance was signed between India and Sri Lanka in the presence of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the Temple Trees.

The extension of the ongoing MoU on HICDP for another five years had been announced during the Virtual Bilateral Summit between Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa on 26 September 2020. The MOU was signed by High Commissioner Gopal Baglay and Treasury Secretary SR Attygalle.