An ambitious USD 5.19 billion road project to connect India and Sri Lanka with a sea-bridge and an underwater tunnel is believed to have been discussed today by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari during his talks with visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Press Trust of India reported.
Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, called on Wickremesinghe here today and discussed construction of a sea bridge and an underwater tunnel linking 22-km stretch between Talaimannar in the island nation and Dhanushkodi in India, official sources said.
To improve connectivity with the neighbouring nations, India has signed motor vehicle pacts with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and is also proposing to improve connectivity with Sri Lanka.
"Multi-lateral funding agency ADB, which has already agreed to finance infrastructure projects worth about USD 8 billion for Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) region, has also shown keen interest in financing USD 5.19 billion India-Sri Lanka proposed project," a source said.
Sources said it was also proposed during the meeting that a Secretary-level meeting along with the representatives of ADB can be held in Sri Lanka to discuss the project.
India also wants Sri Lanka to join the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, signed in June this year in Bhutan during Minister Nitin Gadkari's visit there, which aims to facilitate cross-border movement of all types of vehicles in the BBIN region.
Work on the USD 8 billion road connectivity projects among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) is likely to be completed within two years.
India would also enter into another landmark motor pact with Myanmar and Thailand by year-end.Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said ADB is ready to finance the project "for providing connectivity to Sri Lanka".
He had said there was a missing link of narrow corridor of about 22 km in connectivity to Sri Lanka from Rameshwaram 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," Minister Nitin Gadkari had said.