Keen on fostering ties with neighbours, India is set to engage in high-level talks with Sri Lanka by October for an ambitious USD 5.19 billion road project to connect both the nations through a sea-bridge and an under water tunnel.
The development follows Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari meeting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week with plans to expand the existing motor pact with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal to other neighbouring countries.
Secretary-level talks between India and Sri Lanka have been decided by October in the island nation to take forward the project involving construction of a sea bridge and under-water tunnel linking 22 km stretch between Talaimannar, Sri Lanka and Dhanushkodi, India, official sources said.
Multilateral funding agency ADB has already shown interest
to finance the USD 5.19 billion project, sources said adding, the bank has already agreed to finance infrastructure projects worth USD 8 billion under Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement, aimed at providing seamless flow of traffic among the nations.
Secretary-level talks are proposed as per convenience of Sri Lanka for a pre-feasibility study and finance by ADB, sources said.
"The officer level meeting will include apprising Sri Lanka about the developments related to implementing BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement. The pact aims at facilitating cross border movement of all types of vehicles in the region. Since there is a provision of other countries in the region joining the pact, Sri Lanka may like to consider this for further improving connectivity between the region," an official said.
India wants Sri Lanka to join the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, the official said.
The project was signed in June this year in Bhutan during Gadkari's visit there.
Work on the USD 8 billion road connectivity projects under BBIN is likely to be completed within two years.
India is also looking to enter into another landmark motor pact with Myanmar and Thailand by year end.
Gadkari had earlier said there is a missing link of narrow corridor of about 22 km in connectivity to Sri Lanka from ameshwaram, which is presently being serviced through makeshift ferry service arrangements.
"We are working on the project and as soon as it is completed, Trans Asia Road and transport network could be extended to Sri Lanka," Gadkari had said.