India today expressed its keenness to invest in the development of war-torn Sri Lanka in a big way for which it promised to rope in private players in sectors like ports and exploration of oil and gas.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, who is here on an official visit, also reaffirmed India’s commitment to building infrastructure and institutions in Sri Lanka during his talks with the country’s leadership here.

He also said both countries reviewed the bilateral ties with reference to rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced Tamil civilians.

“Sri Lanka government is appreciative of India’s solidarity and efforts and ongoing efforts to rebuild areas which were destroyed in conflict and in rehabilitation of people,” Sharma told reporters here.

India has been involved in a number of developmental projects in Sri Lanka as part of its efforts to rebuild the country after the end of the civil war in 2009. The country is also building nearly 50,000 houses for displaced civilians in Tamil-dominated Northern Province.

The Minister said Indian companies will be more than wiling to upgrade ports in Sri Lanka.

“Also they are wiling to be a major partner in oil and gas exploration. An offer has been given by ONGC Videsh Ltd. Also IOC is keen to develop oil refinery here,” he said.

The Minister also said the Government will ask all banks in India to help the private sector companies willing to invest in Sri Lanka.

India has also re-built several schools damaged during the decades-old civil war. It is also involved in empowering the Tamil civilians and helping them in a number of ways.

Yesterday, Sharma had said that India will provide assistance to Sri Lanka for setting up a manufacturing zone for producing engineering and auto component goods to help the neighbouring country improve exports.

The two countries, the Minister said, have also decided to set up a skill training institute at Trincomalee.

Sharma is here to attend the ‘India Show’ organised by CII in Sri Lanka.

(This article was published on August 4, 2012)
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