Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday handed over the first lot of houses constructed in tea plantation areas under Indian Housing Project for estate workers in Sri Lanka. Addressing the ceremony via video conference the prime minister said, "We're crafting new future together and Sri Lanka will always remain special for us".
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe along with several other ministers and Indian officials was present at the ceremony, which took place at Dunsinane estate, Nuwara Eliya.
"These aren't just physical structures but realisation of your and our dreams. We've dreamt of peaceful and secure future for Sri Lanka where aspirations for development are met," PM Modi said.
Out of the committed 60,000 houses in Sri Lanka, around 47,000 houses are built so far while the additional 10,000 houses would be constructed in shortest possible time, the prime minister said.
The "innovative Indian Housing Project with grant of over $350 million is one of the largest Indian grant assistance project across the globe, Modi added .
Meanwhile, remembering the historical links between India and Sri Lanka, PM Wickremesinghe said, “I thank Prime Minister Modi. He has kept the promise he made last year". Earlier Modi had promised to keep Sri Lanka in a special place in its neighbourhood first policy.
People of Sri Lanka brave the rain and come together to celebrate the moment of handing over the houses, as Hon PM @RW_UNP and High Commissioner H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu arrive at Dunsinane estate pic.twitter.com/tNDQce2u4r— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) August 12, 2018
On Sunday, Sri Lanka has also embraced PM Modi's suggestion to establish direct air links between Colombo and Varanasi to facilitate lakhs of pilgrims from the island nation.