Summit shifted to Colombo
Security and logistical problems in Kandy
Security considerations and logistical factors have compelled the Government to change the venue for the South Asian summit from Kandy to Colombo, a Foreign Ministry official said yesterday. “Holding the summit in Colombo is easy in the light of available security. Moreover, it is difficult within a short time frame to effect improvements in the hill capital,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ravinatha Ariyasinha, told The Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times learns that one of the reasons for transfering the summit to Colombo is the lack of funds to meet the high cost needed to repair the roadways and carry out other improvements.
The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation summit is scheduled to be held from July 27 to August 3, this year.
Leaders of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Afghanistan are expected to attend the summit along with an estimated 3,000 persons, including officials, security personnel and journalists.
Mr. Ariyasinghe said another reason for shifting the venue was that Kandy did not have adequate hotel facilities for the heads of government or state, who would attend the summit.
The earlier plan was for the summit to be held at the International Buddhist Centre in Kandy while cultural shows and other conferences were to be held at the Peradeniya University.
Kandy District Secretary Gotabhaya Jayaratne said that although the main summit was being shifted to Colombo, the exhibition, cultural programmes and youth programmes connected to the SAARC summit would be held in Kandy as scheduled.
Kandy district RDA director, R.M.T.B. Ratnayake said roads in Kandy were to be resurfaced at the cost of Rs.1.4 billion.