Sri Lanka’s free ambulance service 1990 Suwa Seriya, which was provided to Sri Lanka under Indian grant assistance, turned six this year on Friday.
The project was launched in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi provided a health package in the form of a grant of USD 7.6 million, News Wire reported.
Initially, ambulance services were provided in the Western and the Sabaragamuwa provinces and the project was methodically started with a fleet of 88 ambulances.
Celebrating the anniversary of Suwa Seriya, which was marked on Friday, former minister Harsha de Silva, who initiated the project, said it has been a huge success thus far, with 5.4 million calls and 1.2 million emergency and critical care admissions.
He further congratulated the Chairman of the Suwa Seriya organization Dumindra Ratnayake and his team of 1500 staff.
Dr Harsha de Silva also thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the successful implementation and operations of the free ambulance service, according to News Wire.
India under its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, has always come forward to help the debt-ridden island country. Recently, India extended 8 Lines of Credit (LOCs) to Sri Lanka amounting to USD 1,850.64 million in the past 10 years.
“In January 2022, India extended a USD 400 million currency swap to Sri Lanka under the SAARC Framework and deferred successive Asian Clearing Union (A.C.U.) settlements till July 6, 2022. A Line of Credit of USD 500 million was extended to Sri Lanka for importing fuel from India,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in a written reply to a question put by DMK Lok Sabha MP S Ramalingam.
Jaishankar informed that India has extended a credit facility of USD 1 billion for the procurement of food, medicines and other essential items from India.
More than 25 tons of drugs and medical supplies which were donated by the government and people of India during the last two months are valued at close to Sri Lanka Rupees (SLR) 370 million. This is in addition to the economic assistance of around USD 3.5 billion and supply of other humanitarian supplies such as rice, milk powder, and kerosene.
These humanitarian supplies are in continuation of the government of India’s ongoing support to the people of Sri Lanka in multiple forms such as financial assistance, forex support, material supply, and many more.
These efforts prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy which places people-to-people engagement is still active.
India is becoming a stronger and more mutually beneficial partner to Sri Lanka. Apart from assistance during the pandemic and fertilizer chaos, India is also donating basic products to the island nation.
Sri Lanka has been suffering a diesel shortage since February, which led to hours of daily power cuts. Presently, Sri Lanka is struggling with acute food and electricity shortages, forcing the country to seek help from its neighbours.
The recession is attributed to foreign exchange shortages caused by a clampdown on tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country is unable to buy sufficient fuel and gas, while people are deprived of basic amenities as well. (ANI)