Colombo, March 14: Prime Minister rendra Modi Saturday visited Jaff, becoming the first Indian premier to set foot in the war-ravaged town in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-domited Northern Province, where he handed over homes built with Indian assistance to displaced local Tamils.
Modi also laid the foundation stone of a cultural centre in Jaff. He is the second foreign leader to visit the town, about 400 km north of Colombo, after British Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2013. He also visited the North Central Province’s capital city of Anuradhapura where he, along with Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirise, offered prayers at the sacred Mahabodhi tree. After this, Modi flagged off a train service in the town of Talaimanr and also unveiled a plaque iugurating the local railway station.
The Jaff housing project, built with Indian assistance, will provide shelter to 27,000 families.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi said: “This project will provide shelter to 27,000 families. These houses are not just walls made of brick and stones, but an opportunity to share the sorrow of the needy and help them.” He said the owner-driven reconstruction project idea was begun in Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake. Modi also participated in the symbolic milk boiling ceremony to mark house warming being performed by the families. He also offered prayers at the the guleswaram Temple in Jaff. “Feeling blessed”, he tweeted.
At Talaimanr, he iugurated the Talaimar 1650 pier railway station and flagged off the Talaimanr- Medawachchiya train service to Colombo, following the rehabilitation work carried out with Indian credit assistance. Speaking on the occasion, Modi said Sri Lanka and India ties are special. “We are not just neighbours but joined by our cultural relations.” He said the Talaimar railway project would give a fillip to the economic progress of the area. The prime minister is in Sri Lanka on the third and fil leg of his five-day three-tion tour. He is the first Indian prime minister to visit Sri Lanka in 28 years. Earlier, he visited Mauritius and Seychelles. (IANS)