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Lanka to restore rail connections to northern parts

Lanka to restore rail connections to northern parts
The crippled 252.5 km railway line in northern Sri Lanka, the country’s longest and the symbol of the havoc wreaked by the Tamil Tigers during the decades-long civil war, is expected to be restored by 2013 with India extending a loan worth USD 800 million.

The railway tracks ceased to exist with just vast swaths of empty lands left now – the network suffered several bombings as the then powerful rebels crippled it to prevent Sri Lankan Army from entering areas controlled by them.

IRCON, a Government of India entity, is rebuilding the railway network in northern Sri Lanka at a cost of USD 800 million under a Line of Credit agreement that India has extended to its neighbour.

The restoration of 252.5 km railway line from Medawachchiya to Jaffna and Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka’s only commercial harbour in the north, will be completed by December 2013, 18 months ahead of schedule and it is set to become the showpiece project of India-Sri Lanka developmental ties.

It took nearly three years to demine the areas and clear them of the bushes and now IRCON’s work on restoration is progressing in full swing at various locations.

‘The project will be implemented in four phases and the first stretch from Medawachchiya to Madhu Road will be done by February next year, followed by Madhu Road to Talai Mannar and Omanthai to Pallai in September next year and finally the stretch from Pallai to Kankesanthurai in December,’ S L Gupta, General Manager of IRCON operations in Sri Lanka, said.

Gupta said most part of the network was destroyed due to the war and his team could find tracks only in a few areas.

The famous Yaazdevi Express would resume its service from Colombo to Jaffna and further north. In the long run, the railway line would also provide an indirect connectivity to India with the corridor running up to Talai Mannar from where a ferry service, which is under the consideration of India and Sri Lanka, would take people to Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu.

The Line of Credit is part of India’s assistance to redevelop infrastructure in northern Sri Lanka after the end of the war. IRCON has already rebuilt over 100 km of  Sri Lanka’s Southern Railway.
PTI

PTI

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