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Passenger ferry service commences between India and Sri Lanka

Passenger ferry service commences between India and Sri Lanka

Daily FT: The much-awaited passenger ferry service linking India’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai (KKS) commenced operations recently.
The ferry was flagged-off from Nagapattinam by the Indian Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Shri Sarbananda Sonowal at the port, and the External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar through video link. The ceremony was addressed by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe virtually. The Ports, Shipping and Aviation Minister of the Government of Sri Lanka Nimal Siripala de Silva also joined the event virtually.
In his address, Prime Minister Modi recalled the vision document jointly adopted during the visit of the President of Sri Lanka to India in July 2023 for economic partnership between India and Sri Lanka, with the central theme of connectivity.
He highlighted that connectivity brings closer the two countries and its people. Recalling the recent launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor during the G20 summit in India in September 2023, the Prime Minister mentioned that the people of Sri Lanka will benefit from this connectivity corridor, as multimodal connectivity between India and Sri Lanka is strengthened.
He further said that both Governments are working on fin-tech connectivity by linking UPI and Lanka Pay, and for connecting the energy grids to enhance energy security.
Prime Minister Modi added that the Governments will continue to work closely to start ferry services on the traditional Rameswaram-Talaimannar sector too.
In his remarks, highlighting the important role of ferry services in enhancing people-to-people ties between the two countries, President Wickeremesinghe thanked the Government of India and the Shipping Corporation of India for taking steps to recommence the service.
Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar underlined that the launch of ferry is an affirmation of the people-centric policies of the Government of India (GOI).
“The focus of GOI’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy is connectivity, cooperation and contacts and in the future, connectivity with Sri Lanka will be further enhanced through power grid connection, oil pipeline and setting up an economic corridor,” he added.
He highlighted that establishment of air and sea connectivity, smooth processing of visas and strengthening tourism links will make the lives of common people easier.
Indian Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister hailed the ferry launch as a historic step which will provide an efficient and cost-effective means of travel for the people of the two countries.
Minister de Silva thanked the Government of India for the assistance extended in upgradation of the KKS harbor which will bring immense benefits to the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
The high-speed ferry is operated by the Shipping Corporation of India and has a capacity of 150 passengers. The maiden journey between Nagapattinam and KKS (about 60 nm) was covered in around four hours.
The passengers who arrived at KKS on the maiden ferry were welcomed at the port by the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation of Sri Lanka and the Consul General of India at Jaffna, who also saw off the first batch of passengers on the return voyage.

OSL take:
Sri Lanka and India enjoy strong bilateral and trade ties that have been further strengthened by an operational free trade agreement (FTA). The new passenger ferry service between the two countries would further enhance ties between the two countries due to increased connectivity. It would expand trade, business and investment opportunities for Indian businesses in Sri Lanka and vice versa. The ongoing economic activities have expanded opportunities in Sri Lanka while the country is also working towards becoming an emerging business destination in the South Asian region. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as trade concessions enjoyed by the country have also helped boost business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. With many Indian businesses already engaged in successful business ventures in Sri Lanka, Indian businesses could confidently explore the expanding opportunities in the country. Other foreign businesses/investors could look at setting up base in Sri Lanka to engage with other countries in the region, especially with India.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20231024/Z_2

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