Asserting the Duraiappah stadium a symbol of optimism and economic development, Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Saturday said India will walk side by side with Sri Lanka as it charts its own path to progress and prosperity for all citizens.
“The Duraiappah stadium is not just bricks and motors it is a symbol of optimism and economic development. An arena of phosphorous and healthy future for Jaffna’s youth. It demonstrates your determination to pursue the path of economic progress,” Prime Minister Modi said in a video conference from New Delhi after jointly dedicated to the people of Sri Lanka, the newly renovated Duraiappah Stadium in Jaffna, with President Maithripala Sirisena.
“India will walk side by side with Sri Lanka as it charts its own path to progress and prosperity for all of its citizens,” he added.
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Prime Minister Modi said the relationship between India and Sri Lanka is not limited to the confines of the two governments, but they resides in the rich context of history, culture, language, art and geography.
“India strongly believes that its economic growth must drive and bring benefits to its neighbours. Duraiappah stadium embodies the spirit of our cooperation. Indeed, India’s support for Sri Lanka’s development is a promise of our friendship,” he added.
The Prime Minister further said India desires to see an economically prosperous Sri Lanka with unity and integrity, peace, harmony and security and equal opportunity and dignity.
“Sri Lanka was among the first supporters of the UN resolution on Yoga Day in 2014. And today we have celebrated the start of the international yoga with a curtain raiser from Jaffna’s Duraiappah stadium. Last year in March I was in Jaffna, the warmth and affection I received from the people is still fresh in my mind. Today is another landmark day when once again we celebrate our partnership with the people of Sri Lanka and with the residence of Jaffna,” he added.
Dedicating the Duraiappah stadium to the people of Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Modi said, “We are not alone, the modern tools of communication have enabled the 1.25 billion people of India and the friendly people of Sri Lanka to join us in this celebration.”
“After a wait of nearly 20 years, your applause and cheer will once again rekindle the soul of Duraiappah stadium. Even while we are sitting thousands of kilometers away in Delhi, we can feel the pulse of vibrancy and atmosphere of change in Jaffna,” he added.
The stadium, named after of former Mayor of Jaffna, late Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah, has been renovated by India at a cost of over seven crore rupees. It has a seating capacity of 1,850 and will provide the necessary infrastructure to promote sports and recreational activities, and assist the overall development of the youth of the Northern Province in Sri Lanka. The stadium has not been in use since 1997.
The renovated stadium will provide the necessary infrastructure to promote sports and recreation activities and benefit more than 50 thousand students from different schools and educational institutions in the northern province.
Prime Minister Modi and President Sirisena also witnessed the first major event at the renovated stadium, which is a celebration of the second International Day of Yoga.
Eight thousand people performed yoga on the sports ground and around 1500 to 1800 people watched the proceedings of the event.