New Delhi: At a time when Sri Lanka is facing a severe economic crisis and a steep currency depreciation, India on Thursday urged its nationals living in Sri Lanka to exercise caution and examine the currency convertibility and fuel situation in the island nation carefully.
During a weekly presser, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, "We have been following these developments for some time but our understating is that India is still the largest source of tourists for Sri Lanka."
In general guidance to all the Indians there or for the ones who are thinking of going there, Mr Bagchi noted, "Our endeavour is to prevent any untoward incident involving Indians outside India. We would therefore encourage Indians to exercise all care and caution while in Sri Lanka. They should examine all relevant factors including currency convertibility and the fuel situation before undertaking any essential travel to Sri Lanka."
He further assured that the Indian High Commission is in touch with local authorities over the safety of the Indian nationals in Sri Lanka.
In reply to the queries about whether Indians should travel to Sri Lanka, MEA spokesperson pointed out, "As regards to travel of Indians to Sri Lanka in the current situation, let me emphasize that the safety and well-being of Indian nationals during their stay outside India including in Sri Lanka, in this particular case, is always of prime importance," and added that Indians must exercise caution.
Notably, Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress and severely undermining the country's ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
India has been reiterating its stance to stand by the people of Sri Lanka at the time of crisis, saying that India has been at forefront of extending economic assistance to Sri Lanka and will continue to do so.