India-Sri Lanka Current Affairs
India, Sri Lanka joint naval exercise SLINEX-2018 was held at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka from September 7 to 13, 2018. SLINEX exercise started in 2005 was previously held once in two years and now it has been converted to annual event this year onwards.
The exercise was conducted in two phases, namely Harbour and Sea Phase. These exercises involved joint training, exchange of expertise, helicopter and maritime patrol aircraft operations, search and rescue, and maneuvers at sea. The exercise also involved sports fixtures and cultural events to provide opportunity for personnel from both navies to learn from each other and to build individual bonds of friendship and camaraderie. The scope of exercise was significantly increased this year, as it saw participation of three ships, two maritime patrol aircraft and one helicopter participating from Indian side. In addition, Sri Lanka Air Force personnel also participated in the exercise for first time.
SLINEX exercise is continuation of ongoing operational interaction between both navies wherein regular ships visits are being undertaken between the two countries. Converting it into annual event signifies desire of both countries to enhance co-operation in maritime domain and further strengthen mutual trust and interoperability between two navies. SLINEX 2017 was held at Visakhapatnam in September 2017 wherein two ships SLNS participated from Sri Lanka Navy.
India has handed over 404 houses built for Indian-origin people in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas at Dunsinane Estate in Nuwara Eliya city. This is first lot of houses built under Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas in Sri Lanka.
Indian Housing Project in Plantation Areas
Under this project close to 47,000 houses so far have been completed out of total 60,000. With grant of over US $350 million, it is India’s largest assistance project in any country. Houses built under it are provided to Indian-origin people, mostly Tamils in Sri Lanka’s tea plantation areas. India is also considering to sign agreement for construction of additional 10,000 houses at cost of 12 billion Sri Lankan Rupees under this project.
Indian-origin Tamils, mostly employed in tea and rubber plantations in Sri Lanka, lack proper housing. They are mostly residing in central hill areas of the island country. They were brought from India by British rulers during 19th century to work in coffee plantations in Sri Lanka. More than million are still associated with tea and rubber plantations. Though they have been given the Sri Lankan citizenship, housing is one of the major issue for these workers employed as daily wagers. Earlier, Sri Lankan Government led by President Maithripala Sirisena had formulated ational plan of action for the plantation workers and planned for construction of 55,000 houses till 2020.