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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has observed that the hill country Tamils of Indian origin have their roots in India, have grown in Sri Lanka and not only connected just two countries but also touched hearts and strengthened the hands of two nations.

He made this observation in his video address at the ceremony held to hand over houses to beneficiaries in Punduloya under the auspices of the Indian government.

In his address, Premier Modi said: " I have fond memories of the love and affection and the most enthusiastic welcome you showered on me when I met you in Hatton last year.

Your roots are in India, they have grown in Sri Lanka. You have not connected just two countries, but also touched the hearts and strengthened the hands of two great nations.

Today, we are crafting a new future together, a new high in India-Sri Lanka friendship.

Today, so many of you are taking possession of the newly built independent houses in the plantation areas under the innovative Indian Housing Project.

We are happy that India will be part of your journey towards land ownership.

You have actively participated in building these houses. These are symbols of your sweat and toil.

That is the success and uniqueness of the participatory owner-driven approach of the Indian Housing Project.

These are not just physical structures, but realisation of your dreams; and not only your dreams but our dreams too! We have always dreamt of a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for Sri Lanka where aspirations of all for growth and development are met.

When I spoke to you last year, I made some promises:

First - that India will work for expanding the pre-hospital Emergency Ambulance Service all over Sri Lanka;

Last month in Jaffna, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and I jointly flagged off the expansion of the Emergency Ambulance Service all over Sri Lanka.

Second – that we would start direct Air India flights from Colombo to Varanasi so that you can visit Varanasi with ease and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.

As you may be aware, Air India flights between Colombo and Varanasi started in August 2017.

Thirdly –we committed to construct an additional 10,000 houses in the plantation areas; and

And today, we are signing the agreement for the construction of the additional 10,000 houses at a cost of 12 billion Sri Lankan Rupees.

I am also happy that under the leadership of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, the land has already been identified for building the new 10,000 houses.

I am hopeful that these additional 10000 houses would be constructed in the shortest possible time.

We have out of our total commitment of 60,000 houses in Sri Lanka, completed close to 47,000 houses so far in Sri Lanka!

It gives me immense satisfaction to see that India has kept its promises.

And today, we are handing over the first lot of houses built in the plantation areas under Indian assistance.

The Indian Housing Project in Sri Lanka, with a grant of over US dollars 350 million, is the largest Indian grant assistance project in any country abroad. Sri Lanka has been special for us, and will remain special.

I would like to congratulate the proud owners who have taken possession of their new houses today.

You are the driving force behind Sri Lanka's thriving tea industry.

I am confident that your contribution will further strengthen the economic fabric of Sri Lanka.

The Government and people of India are with you in your journey towards greater peace and prosperity.

Thank you, very much.

Nanri! Vanakkam!"

Bandula-Gunawardena-Joint-Opposition-700-01

JO Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena has stated that the struggle to get the post of the opposition leader is on. He was addressing the media at the parliamentary complex soon after the Speaker had announced that there would be no change in the post of the Opposition Leader.

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