India planning additional aid to Sri Lanka


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Tuesday met former Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and conveyed to him India’s intention to provide additional aid for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons in the island nation.

Support TwoCircles

Krishna met the visiting leader of the opposition United National Party and discussed a host of bilateral issues with him.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also talked of additional aid for Sri Lanka’s internally displaced persons (IDPs).

“Another $382 million are in the pipeline,” Rao said at a seminar on the peace process in Sri Lanka Tuesday.

This will be in addition to Rs.500 crore (over $100 million) announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year for the rehabilitation and resettlement of IDPs last year, said Rao.

The Rs.500 crore aid package was given by India in July 2009 after the Sri Lankan government announced victory in a decades-old war against Tamil Tiger separatists.

India has also extended the lines of credit worth $416 million for the restoration of railway infrastructure and other infrastructure projects in northern Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is engaged in a major exercise to resolve the problem of IDPs and needed massive help to rehabilitate and resettle them, Rao said, adding that the IDPs issue should be resolved through negotiations for a permanent political settlement of the ethnic dispute.

The seminar, in which former diplomats and Sri Lanka experts participated, was organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a public policy think tank.

Nearly 300,000 civilians were displaced by the stand-off between the Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eealam (LTTE) that ended in May last year. Currently, around 80,000 war-displaced people are said to be still living in army-run camps.

M.K. Rasgotra, a former foreign secretary who heads the ORF Centre for International Relations, said the conference was organised to look at what needs to be done to take the peace process forward and rebuild the nation.