India builds a thousand houses for Tamil farmworkers
The key-handover ceremony took place during the Pongal harvest festival. India continues to invest in the development of Sri Lanka’s Tamil community. Thousands of more houses are on the way in the coming months.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – More than a thousand houses were donated to Tamil farmworkers of Indian descent who work on plantations in Sri Lanka.
House keys were handed over last Saturday in a ceremony held in Kotagala during the traditional Tamil Pongal harvest festival, as part of a 60,000-housing project funded by the Indian government.
India’s High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Development Namal Rajapaksa and Sri Lankan Minister of Technology Jeevan Thondaman attended the event.
High Commissioner Baglay noted that plantation communities represent an important cultural link between India and Sri Lanka:
“Development assistance is a key pillar of the bilateral relationship between the two countries," said the Indian envoy. “At a total of around US$ 3.5 billion, development assistance from India cuts across sectors,” he added.
What is more, Baglay explained, India will continue to support the development of the Tamil community in the island nation.
According to data from the Indian High Commission in Colombo, India has already subsidised the construction of 4,000 homes for plantation workers in seven different districts.
About 3,000 houses have already been handed out, whilst another 750 are on their way. A further 10,000 houses are to be built in the near future in order to reach the final goal of 60,000.
In addition, India has also financed the construction of a 150-bed hospital in Dickoya, a key plantation region, as well as a multipurpose hall at Saraswathy Central College in Pussellawa.
An additional 46,000 homes have been built or repaired in Sri Lanka’s Eastern and Northern provinces as part of the Indian Aided Housing Project.
On the following Sunday, distinguished guests took part in the traditional Mattu Pongal festival, which celebrates the vital role of livestock (especially bulls) in the life of farming communities.