India's development cooperation with Sri Lanka is unique and is built on foundations of political understanding, a historic past, geographic realities and socio-cultural empathy. Since 2005, GoI has committed a total of USD 2.6 billion t Sri Lanka, out of which USD 436 million is grant assistance and USD 2.17 billion under Lines of Credit. The developmental assistance projects are entirely based on the priorities set by the Government and the people of Sri Lanka. They have been widely appreciated for the value they generate per unit of assistance provided, their transparent approach and timely implementation through recourse to local materials and manpower, in a manner that supports local economies. The assistance focuses specially on capacity-building, human resources development, uplifting of weaker sections as well as infrastructure development.
GoI assistance to Sri Lanka has evolved taking into account the ground situation and the immediate needs of the people at any given time. Even before the armed conflict came to an end, GoI took the initiative to send emergency relief assistance in November 2008 for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were pouring out of the conflict zone. This assistance was in the form of family packs comprising daily use items such as clothing, utensils, essential food packets, personal hygiene items etc. To meet the urgent medical needs of these IDPs, GoI set up an Emergency Field Hospital at Pulmodai in March 2009, which was later shifted to Chettikulam, to provide emergency treatment. This hospital provided emergency treatment to about 50,000 patients and conducted nearly 3000 surgical operations.
When the armed conflict came to an end, GoI's focus shifted to rehabilitation and resettlement of the IDPs. This included providing temporary shelters to the IDPs, supply of corrugated roofing sheets and cement bags. The next priority was livelihood restoration. In order to quickly revive farming activities in the North, GoI supplied agricultural implements and seeds to farmers. It also provided tractors to agro-centres across the five districts of the Northern Province. To help facilitate movement of the people and their early resettlement, GoI contributed seven demining teams. To supplement this anti-mine action, artificial limb-fitment camps were organised to address the needs of the victims of mines and other unexploded ordnances.
Once the emergency and short-term needs were catered for, GoI's attention shifted to the longer-term needs of housing, reconstruction and development. Capacity-building is an integral part of the assistance strategy for this phase. Accordingly, GoI's portfolio of development projects now encompasses virtually all areas, including housing, agriculture, fisheries, education, health, industry, transport, culture and sports.
A significant feature of a number of GoI projects is that they were enabled by a MoU signed with the Government of Sri Lanka to implement Small Development Projects. The purpose was to work around procedural delays for projects of value less than SLR 300 million (INR 14 crore). Through this template, it was possible to expedite approvals, thus making the overall implementation process more compact. A large number of projects undertaken with GoI's assistance have been on schedule and some are ahead of schedule.