By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): The Shipping Corporation of India, Mumbai in conjunction with the High Commission of India and the Ministry of Port, Shipping and Aviation to launch a new passenger service linking South India and North of Sri Lanka.
The new passenger service would operate from Nagapattinam, India to the port of Kankesanthurai (KKS) Jaffna and vice versa, Indian high commission official said.
The vessel deployed will be High-Speed Craft (HSC) Cheriyapani and the inaugural call will be made at the KKS port on 6 October 2023.
The new passenger service would offer an excellent opportunity for the people of India to make low-cost travel to Jaffna, Sri Lanka further strengthening historical ties between the two nations.
The transit time between the two ports will be just 3 hours and to make the travel more economical the operators are willing to offer a 50 Kg free baggage allowance.
The passenger vessels will be handled at the brand new passenger terminal recently built by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) at a cost of Rs. 450 million opening a new era of maritime travel and tourism for the Northern region.
Asha Agencies Ltd., (Pership Group Company) who are the local agents of SCI would serve as the General Sales Agent.
A journey in the Nagapattinam-Kankesanthurai sector, which is about 64 nautical miles long, is estimated to take three-and-a-half to four hours.
A ferry can carry 150-200 passengers Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the service in New Delhi recently.
On July 14, the India-Sri Lanka Joint Committee held a virtual meeting. It discussed the resumption of the ferry service between the two countries from mutually agreed points.
Rajesh Kumar Sinha, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, led the Indian team. K.D.S. Ruwanchandra, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation, headed the Sri Lankan side.
The announcement has triggered curiosity among observers of India-Sri Lanka relations because it will be after nearly 40 years that regular ferry services will be operated between Tamil Nadu and the Northern Province.
Speaking from Jaffna, Sritharan Thirunavukkarasu, president of the Social Democratic Party of Tamils, said he does not see any problem in the sector drawing adequate passengers.
“Historically, people had travelled on this route. Besides, given the proximity of Nagapattinam to places of religious importance such as Nagore, Velankanni and Chidambaram, people of different religions would like to use the service,” said Thirunavukkarasu.