India-Sri Lanka ferry service to resume after 4 decades

Chennai: The ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Northern Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai will begin on October 14, Saturday. Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu were connected by a ferry service earlier but was stopped four decades ago due to the Sri Lankan Civil War. Kankesanthurai is a resort hub in Jaffna district of northern Sri Lanka.

The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) will deploy a high-speed craft, Cheriyapani, for the service between India and Sri Lanka. The high-speed vessel was earlier deployed between Anthroth in Lakshadweep and Beypore in Kerala’s Kozhikode.

A trial run of the ferry service was held from the Nagapattinam port on October 8, around 9.40 am. It roughly took three hours to reach the destination Kankesanthurai, which is 60 nautical miles away from Nagapattinam. The first service was scheduled to be held on October 10 but was postponed to October 14 due to technical reasons.

A one-way ticket would cost around Rs 7,670 and the SCI has partnered with a private agency to take care of the ticket sales. Each passenger can carry up to 50 kg of baggage and the vessel can accommodate up to 150 passengers apart from the 14-member crew.

According to the reports, separate office spaces have been allocated to Customs, External Affairs, Shipping, Immigration and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) by the Union and the State governments.

Jaffna and Chennai share similar cultures, and having the ferry would benefit the pilgrims from both countries and especially the Sri Lankan diaspora in India. It would save them time compared to going through Colombo to reach the north of Sri Lanka. The development came months after Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India this July.

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