KILINOCHCHI (Sri Lanka), Jan 18 (IANS): Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited this former Tamil Tiger hub Wednesday and gifted medical equipment to a hospital, unveiled a renovated school and handed over houses built with New Delhi's assistance.
On the second day of a four-day visit to the island nation, Krishna took a chopper from capital Colombo to land in Kilinochchi, the former headquarter of the now vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
He gifted a range of medical equipment to the district hospital in the heart of the small town, about 60 km south of Jaffna.
The hospital, which suffered extensive damage during the final phase of the armed conflict, was rebuilt by the Sri Lankan government and restored to the provincial council.
Dressed in casuals and sports sneakers, a relaxed Krishna unveiled an ICU and a fully air-conditioned sterilisation room at the 200-bed hospital.
Accompanying him were Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen and Small Industries Minister Douglas Devananda.
Krishna also unveiled the renovated K.N. Sivapathakalaiyaka Government Tamil Mixed School.
"The handing over of this renovated school, damaged during the war, marks the beginning of the reconstruction phase of similar 79 war-damaged schools in the districts of Kilinochchi, Mulaipivu and Vavuniya with (Indian) financial support," Krishna told a gathering of about 300 people, including students, teachers and their families.
The three districts were once virtually controlled by the LTTE, which the Sri Lankan military crushed in May 2009.
Noting that the restoration projects would enable the war-hit to access schools and hospitals and to shelter the internally displaced, Krishna said India wanted development to resume in the region.
In Jaffna, the minister will hand over about 50 houses built under a pilot project to Tamils in Nalavadi near Ariyalai and gift about 10,000 bicycles to IDPs.
Krishna will also mark the completion of wreck removal works at the KKS Harbour in Jaffna before flying back to Colombo.
Of the four agreements India and Sri Lanka signed Tuesday, two relate to the funding of an ambitious housing project with a $260 million line of credit.
This will seek to build about 49,000 units in the once strife-torn region for the internally displaced and restore the northern railway link with $382 million credit from Exim (export and import) Bank of India.