The High Commission of India and the Indian expatriate community in Sri Lanka yesterday celebrated the 65th Independence Day of India at India House in Colombo.
High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha unfurled the National Flag, which was followed by rendering of the National Anthem by the lady officials of the High Commission and the Indian community. The High Commissioner inspected the Guard of Honour presented by the BSF contingent and read out excerpts from the Address to the Nation on the eve of Independence Day by the President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil.
On the occasion, High Commissioner also conveyed his greetings to the citizens of Sri Lanka and noted that India and Sri Lanka, knit together by the ties of history, geography and culture, were destined to play key roles in the rising Asia and our partnership must therefore progress in the spirit of being the closest of neighbours and friends whose destinies were interlinked. High Commissioner highlighted the exchange of high level visits in the recent past and emphasized the successful implementation of engagement of bilateral agenda in all fields. Last year, India was Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and also emerged as the number one source country in terms of foreign tourist arrivals and Foreign Direct Investment. High Commissioner also highlighted that earlier this month, negotiations were completed on agreements to set up a 500 MW power project at Sampur in Trincomalee by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and all the agreements have been initialed and will be signed shortly. High Commissioner also expressed happiness at the resumption of ferry service between India and Sri Lanka after about 30 years with the commencement of ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo in June this year.
High Commissioner also highlighted the progress in the construction of 50,000 houses under a grant provided by India and also the work in progress for the wreck-removal and salvage at the Kankesanthurai Harbour which will help in restoring traditional commercial linkages. High Commissioner also highlighted the rapid progress in reconstruction of railway lines in Northern Sri Lanka, under a Government of India Line of Credit of US $800 million and another railway project in Southern part under another concessional credit line of US$ 167.4 million. He also highlighted that construction of a 150-bed multi-specialty hospital at Dickoya in the Central Province under a grant from the Government of India has started and that all the projects funded by the Government of India are being implemented in a smooth and timely manner.
A brief cultural programme followed which included patriotic songs and colourful and patriotic dance performances by the students of the Indian Cultural Centre. Subsequently, High Commissioner and other officials of the High Commission paid their respects to the memory of fallen soldiers of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in a solemn ceremony at the IPKF Memorial in Colombo.