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India-Sri Lanka Passenger Ferry Service Sets Sail, Ushering in a New Era of Regional Connectivity

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New Delhi: In a significant step towards bolstering regional ties, the passenger ferry service between Nagappatinam in India and Kankesanthurai (KKS) near Jaffna in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka commenced operations on October 14, 2023. This landmark initiative, announced in July 2023 during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India, marks a pivotal moment in enhancing connectivity between the two nations.

Operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, the high-speed ferry with a capacity of 150 passengers is poised to cover the approximately 60 nautical miles (110 km) between Nagapattinam and KKS in approximately 3.5 hours, contingent on sea conditions. To facilitate this service, the Government of India collaborated with the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board to upgrade facilities at Nagapattinam port, while the Government of Sri Lanka invested in the necessary infrastructure at the port of KKS.

This move aligns with the Indian government’s commitment to fortify connectivity with neighboring countries and the broader Indian Ocean Region. The direct passenger ferry service is envisioned to offer an efficient and cost-effective mode of travel, fostering tourism, trade links, and people-to-people connections between India and Sri Lanka. Beyond the socio-cultural impact, the ferry service is expected to stimulate economic activities around the two ports, providing an impetus to local economies.

Noteworthy is the resumption of direct air connectivity between Chennai and Jaffna in December 2022, reinforcing the Indian government’s multifaceted development initiatives in the region.

The inaugural journey of the vessel Cheriyapani, carrying 50 passengers, marked the occasion. Prime Minister of India and the President of Sri Lanka addressed the event through a video message, emphasizing the historical significance of the occasion. The joint flag-off was orchestrated by the Honorable Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, along with the External Affairs Minister of the Government of India. The vessel will make a return journey to India by evening, solidifying the commencement of this momentous ferry service.

This development paves the way for future collaborations, with the governments of India and Sri Lanka expressing their commitment to exploring additional ferry services between ports, including the traditional route between Rameswaram and Talaimannar. The ongoing efforts reflect a shared vision for strengthened regional connectivity and diplomatic cooperation.

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