India puts into motion ferry service from Puducherry to Jaffna
The proposed ferry service between India and Sri Lanka is expected to be launched this year, Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangasamy said.
He told the Assembly the Indian Government hopes to launch the ferry service between the Karaikal Port and Kankesanthurai Port this year.
Presenting the Budget for 2022-23, Rangasamy also said that under the Sagarmala scheme, it was proposed to commence commercial cargo handling operation at the Puducherry Port, in association with Chennai Port Trust this year.
“It is proposed to invite Expression of Interest (EoI) from firms for operating passenger and cargo ship and promoting other allied activities in the Puducherry Port,” he said.
In recent times, India’s Union Ministers and State politicians are calling for further people-to-people connectivity between Sri Lanka and India for tourism purposes as most of the tourists who visit Sri Lanka during the pre-pandemic period were from India.
As part of this, plans are underway from the Indian side to revive the India-Sri Lanka ferry service between Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry and Jaffna covering a distance of 56 nautical miles.
The project is going to be a Public-Private Partnership arrangement with a shipping services entity. Ferry services between Colombo-Tuticorin and Thalaimannar-Rameswaram are also under consideration.
If implemented, the ferry service would facilitate Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims to visit religious and cultural destinations in respective countries.
Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda also stressed the need to revive this service in his conceptual note before taking up the job, hopefully next week.
Responding to a query raised by Batticaloa MP R. Chanakkiyan, Foreign Ministry said there had been no final decision taken from the Sri Lankan side on reviving the ferry service even though the Indian side expressed interests.
The ministry said the Indian proposal was pending approval from Sri Lankan Defence and law enforcement authorities.
It would take around three hours for one-way trip and would cost about Indian Rs 6,5000-Rs 7,000 for a round trip.
In order to promote tourism, the Puducherry ministry for shipping has mooted a proposal to start ferry service between Karaikal in the Union Territory of Puducherry and Jaffna in Sri Lanka covering a distance of 56 nautical miles (103.7 kilometres).
Hundreds of Tamil-speaking people from Sri Lanka come to India on pilgrimage. Besides, many Sri Lankans also visit India to see Buddhist sites.
The ferry service will facilitate their visit. It will not only give boost to tourism, but will also improve bilateral cooperation between the two countries, he said.
A ferry service between India and Sri Lanka was operated between Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu and Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, over a distance of 30 nautical miles.
After the 1964 cyclone destroyed infrastructure at Dhanushkodi, the service was operated from Rameswaram.
In 1984, the Union government suspended the service due to the rise of ethnic conflict in the island nation. In more recent years, the TN government has been looking at a fresh site at Rameswaram to resume operations.