COLOMBO (AFP) - 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 upcoming visit.
The police in the town of Hatton, 125km east of Colombo, hired a private company to remove the wasps from its picturesque tea fields which Mr Modi will tour with his entourage on Friday (May 12).
The private Bee Protection Organisation said it removed nests from two locations to ensure 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," the head of wasp removal unit, Mr Tissa Bandara Thambavita, told AFP.
"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, Mr Thambavita added.
A team will remain on site to ensure those kicked out do not return before Mr Modi touches down.
It will be the second time in just over two years the Indian leader has visited neighbouring Sri Lanka.
He will arrive on Thursday as chief guest at the Buddhist celebration of Vesak, which marks the birth, enlightenment and the passing of the Buddha.
Mr 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 Mr Modi's overnight visit.