Sri Lanka clears thousands of wasps ahead of Modi visit

Private company to remove the wasps from tea fields which the Indian Prime Minister will tour on Friday.

The wasps are being removed to ensure Modi is not stung [M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA]

Sri Lanka has taken the unusual step of clearing thousands of wasps from a tea plantation to ensure Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not stung during his forthcoming visit.

Police in Hatton, some 125km east of the capital Colombo, hired a private company to remove the wasps from its tea fields which Modi will tour with his entourage on Friday.

India's Modi visits Sri Lanka's Tamil Jaffna province

The private Bee Protection Organisation said they removed nests from two locations to ensure that the Indian visitors could land in helicopters without stirring up trouble with the aggressive locals.

"There were two big nests near two helipads. At the time of landing, helicopters can disturb the wasps and they could sting people in that area," Bandara Thambavita, the head of wasp removal unit Tissa, told the AFP news agency.

"We have cleared the nests and declared the area safe for the VVIPs to visit."

The winged evictees were removed humanely and relocated to a nearby jungle, Thambavita added. A team will remain on site to ensure those kicked out do not return before Modi touches down.

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It will be the second time in just over two years that the Indian leader has visited neighbouring Sri Lanka.

He will return Thursday as chief guest at the Buddhist celebration of Vesak, which marks the birth, enlightenment and the passing of the Buddha.

Modi will address a Buddhist conference in Colombo before travelling by helicopter to the central tea country to open an India-funded hospital and address Indian-origin plantation workers.

He will also visit Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth, before leaving on Friday evening.

Sri Lanka police have said they will deploy more than 6,000 officers to provide additional security during Modi's overnight visit.

Source: AFP news agency