Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka 12 August 2018: One hundred and fifty eight families in Nuwara Eliya district of Sri Lanka were full of joy earlier in the week when they received documents of ownership to their new houses from the the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

This was the first set of completed houses funded by the Indian Housing Project in the Plantation Areas, which was implemented by UN-Habitat, through a participatory, home owner driven process. An agreement to fund the construction of an additional 10,000 houses under Phase III of the Project was also signed on the same day.

The High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandu and a number of cabinet Ministers of Sri Lanka also participated in the ceremonial handover of houses and title deeds to the beneficiaries  at Dunsinane estate in Panduluoya, Nuwara Eliya. The event was attended by over 2,000 people, including parliamentarians, members of provincial councils and local authorities, senior government officials, officials from the Plantation Human Development Trust, Regional Plantation Companies and UN-Habitat as well large number of community members from Dunsinane Estate.

Addressing the gathering, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe appreciated India's commitment to partner with Sri Lanka in development projects including the construction of houses for plantation workers. The High Commissioner of India commended UN-Habitat’s efforts in implementing the project through a participatory community driven approach while the Secretary of the Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development appreciated the efforts of UN-Habitat in ensuring high quality construction standards for all the houses.

In honour of the special occasion, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed the gathering at Dunsinane estate via video telecast. Prime Minister Modi congratulated the families on their newly constructed homes and appreciated the participatory home owner-driven process adopted by the Project where beneficiary families actively participate in building their own houses.

Thereafter, the agreement to construct an additional 10,000 houses in the plantation areas through Phase III of this project was signed by the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, and the Minister for Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development.

The overall Indian Housing Project which commenced in the plantation areas in 2016, involves the construction of a total of 14,000 houses for estate workers, with 4,000 houses constructed in the second phase and 10,000 houses in the third phase. UN-Habitat is one of four implementing agencies of the project, currently constructing 1,600 houses in the districts of Nuwara Eliya, Badulla and Kandy, of which 308 houses have been already completed.