War-displaced Tamil civilians in northern Sri Lanka can now hope to have better dwelling facilities, with India and Sri Lanka on Tuesday signing a memorandum of understanding for construction of 49,000 houses at a cost of $260 million (about Rs 1,352 crore).
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris signed the agreement on housing after extensive dialogue on bilateral issues.
Four other agreements in the fields of railway, finance, agriculture and telecommunications were also signed between the two countries.
Under the housing MoU, the second phase of the housing project will see construction of 49,000 houses in the war-torn areas of Kilinochchi, Jaffna and adjoining places by agencies.
A pilot project that envisages construction of 1,000 houses is at an "advanced stage" and nearly 100 units will be handed over by Krishna to beneficiaries on Wednesday when he visits Kilinochchi.
The MoU includes inter alia reconstruction of 38,000 houses, repairs of 5,000 houses under the owner-driven models for IDPs, and construction of 6,000 houses by agencies for vulnerable sections of displaced people who are unable to build their own houses.
The two sides also signed an agreement of Line of Credit of $382.37 million for restoration of the Northern railway Services.
The LoC will be used for laying of tracks on the Pallai-Kankesanthurai railway line, setting up of signaling and telecommunication systems for the line.
Another Buyer's Credit Agreement for $60.69 million for financing Greater Dambulla Water Supply Project for supply, erection and commissioning of water treatment plant and distribution across Dambulla region was also signed.
The two sides also concluded an agreement in the field of agriculture that promote development of cooperation in the fields of agricultural science and technology and agro- processing through joint activities, programmes and personnel.
The last agreement was signed between the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka for establishing a mechanism of technical and institutional cooperation in the field.