Jaffna will soon get its first industrial zone following a landmark agreement signed on Friday between promoters and financiers of the initiative.
Official sources said the move was part of the development partnership with Sri Lanka and the requirement shared by the Government, and India has agreed to rehabilitate the Atchchuvely Industrial Zone in Jaffna District to boost the Small and Medium Sector Enterprises to drive the development agenda of the Northern Province.
“Forty one key SMEs have already submitted their interest to set up business in the zone making it timely for the Government especially on the budget strategy of 2012,” they added. The High Commission of India with its project implementation partner, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), came to an agreement on the development of the Atchchuvely Industrial Zone on Friday in the presence of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda and Indian High Commissioner Ashok K. Kantha.
The project will be implemented under full grant assistance of the Government of India with an estimated outlay of Sri Lankan Rs. 192 million (US$ 1.7 million).
Speaking on the occasion, Minister Rajapaksa thanked the Government of India for undertaking this project as well as for all the assistance provided for reconstruction and development of Northern Province through various others projects.
He added that the AIZ when completed would create employment opportunities for people in Northern Province and encourage investors, both local as well as from the Diaspora.
High Commissioner Kantha informed the Minister that the project would be completed in a period of 14 months and that it would provide a platform for industrial development of the region, for regeneration of livelihoods and for restoration of normalcy in Northern Province.
The objective of the project is to assist potential investors to commence business ventures by providing for required infrastructure and utilities at the AIZ. The project will undertake to construct access roads, internal roads, water supply system with treatment plant, power supply, sewerage and waste disposal system, etc., as a part of the requisite infrastructure at the zone. Approximately 25 acres of the AIZ will be developed initially.
The completion of the project is expected to provide a boost to economic activities in the Jaffna Peninsula and generate local employment, both direct and indirect, for about 2,000 people.
It is also expected to lead to flow of significant investments to increase production capacities in the sectors of textiles, plastic and leather products, food processing, agro-based industries, oil and fibre products, etc., thereby resulting in better utilisation of local resources.
The project will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development of the Government of Sri Lanka. Necessary technical expertise and project management services will be provided by the United Nations (UNOPS).
The Government of Sri Lanka through its agencies is already carrying out preliminary site preparation work at the zone, which makes the project already off the ground.