Oct 23, Colombo: A project funded by India to assist a large number of craftsmen in the deep south of Sri Lanka got off to a start today with the foundation laid by the High Commissioner of India Y.K. Sinha.
Indian High Commissioner along with the Sri Lankan Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Development Douglas Devananda laid the foundation stone for the Handicrafts Village at Hambantota today.
The Project, to be implemented at a cost of Rs. 20 million, is expected to be completed by February 2014, according to a statement from the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
It is expected to assist a large number of craftsmen in Hambantota, who are engaged in producing traditional handicraft items using raw materials from sea-shells, cane, pottery and wood carvings, but do have not adequate avenues to market their produce effectively.
The Handicrafts Village is expected to bring together traditional craftsmen and their products on one side and the customers and tourists on the other, for mutual benefit. The Project is anticipated to provide a welcome boost to the local handicrafts sector and enhance livelihood opportunities for craftsmen in the Southern Province.
Addressing the event Minister Devananda appreciated the Indian government for funding the project.
He underlined several other projects being executed by his Ministry under Indian grant assistance, including the project to set up the Fishnet Factory in Jaffna at a cost of Rs. 166 million and the project to revive the Industrial Estate at Atchchuvely in Jaffna, at a cost of Rs. 220 million, which are expected to improve livelihood and employment opportunities for the youth of the Northern region.
The High Commissioner, in his remarks, emphasized that India and Sri Lanka share a dynamic and multi-faceted relationship, which is rooted in history, language, culture, religion and trade and that the relations between the two countries have matured and diversified with the passage of time, encompassing all areas of contemporary relevance.
"The revival of employment opportunities and restoring livelihoods of the people has been an important priority of India's development assistance projects in Sri Lanka. The Handicrafts village in Hambantota is one of the many initiatives undertaken by the Government of India to promote livelihood opportunities in the conflict-affected areas as well as in other parts of Sri Lanka," the envoy said.
The Government of India has been implementing a variety of multi-sectoral projects in Sri Lanka based on the needs and priorities identified by both countries.
Consul General of India, Hambantota R. Raghunathan, Secretary to the Ministry of Traditional Industries V. Sivagnanasothy, Chairman of the National Crafts Council Buddhi Keerthisena, and several other senior government officials participated in the event.