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* Sri Lanka's reconstructed Northern Railway Line opens to Pallai
Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 08:51 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 04, Kilinochchi: Sri Lanka's Transport Minister Kumara Welgama ceremonially declared open the reconstructed Northern Railway Line from Kilinochchi to Pallai today with the participation of High Commissioner of India Y.K. Sinha.

The Northern Railway Line from Vavuniya to Kankasanthurai, which was completely destroyed by the Tamil Tiger terrorists during their reign, is being reconstructed in stages with the financial and technical assistance from India.

India's state-owned IRCON International Ltd under concessional of an Indian Line of Credit is rebuilding the track from Vavuniya to Kankasanthurai and the signal system in several stages. It is expected to be extended to Jaffna before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.

Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprises Douglas Devananda, Development, Consul General of India in Jaffna V. Mahalingam, Governor of Northern Province G.A. Chandrasiri, Deputy Minister of Transport Rohana Kumara Dissanayake, MP Murugesu Chandrakumar, and, senior officials from the Ministry of Transport, Sri Lanka Railways and officials from IRCON International Limited participated in the ceremony.

As part of the ceremony, the dignitaries undertook a train journey from Kilinochchi to Pallai on the reconstructed track.

The 27.5 km long Kilinochchi-Pallai railway line has been reconstructed under the concessionary credit line amounting to about US$ 800 million provided by the Government of India to the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake the Northern railway reconstruction project.

Under this project, the segments already completed include the Medawchchiya-Madhu Road segment, inaugurated on May 14, 2013 and the Omanthai- Kilinochchi segment, inaugurated on September 14, 2013.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister Welgama thanked the Government of India for the assistance provided towards reconstruction activities in Sri Lanka, including the rehabilitation of the Northern Railway line.

Emphasizing on the close relationship between the two countries, the Minister added that India provided concessionary credit on soft terms for this project which others had not given.

He expressed satisfaction with the work of IRCON International and said that Thalaimannar and Kankasanthurai would also be connected to the reconstructed rail network very soon. The Minister also said that, in Southern Sri Lanka, the railway network would reach Kataragama from Matara in a period of two years. He urged Government of India to consider more concessionary credit towards development of the railway network in Sri Lanka.

India's High Commissioner, Y. K. Sinha in his address termed the inauguration of the Kilinochchi-Pallai railway line as another milestone in the historic partnership between India and Sri Lanka rooted in civilizational ties of history, language, culture, religion and in trade.

He said that the reconstruction of Northern line would assist in restoration of normal life, generate and support livelihood-related activities, assist in restoring connectivity, not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thus promoting development, reconciliation and greater integration.

The High Commissioner commended IRCON International on timely completion of this section of the Northern Railway line and noted that the project was proceeding on schedule.

The High Commissioner noted that an important component of the US$ 800 million Line of Credit for the reconstruction of the Northern Railway line was procurement of rolling stock by Sri Lanka Railways which will go a long way in meeting Sri Lanka's rolling stock requirements.

With the construction of the railway line up to Kataragama and resumption of ferry service between Thalaimannar and Rameshwaram, he affirmed that soon Sri Lankans would be able to travel by train from Hambantota and Matara to Bodhgaya as also to Jammu and Kashmir in North India, Gujarat in the West, Assam and the North-eastern states in the East. The Government of India would extend full assistance to Sri Lanka in this regard.

Congratulating Sri Lanka Railways in taking one more step towards full restoration of the railway network in the conflict-affected parts of Sri Lanka, which would help bring people in different parts of the island closer, the High Commissioner concluded by stressing that as Sri Lanka's closest neighbor and long-standing partner India is prepared to extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in fulfilling its aspirations for peace, harmony, national reconciliation and development.

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