India, Sri Lanka finalizing plans to restart ferry service

Feb 19 2016, New Delhi: India and Sri Lanka have mooted to resume a ferry service from Kochi to Colombo to enhance the ties between the two countries and are in the process of finalizing the ways the service should be offered, according to a report in New Indian Express.

“The ferry service is mooted between Kochi in Kerala to Colombo. We are finalizing the modalities and working out if it would be purely a passenger service. To make it economically viable, we will include freight service,” an official of India’s Ministry of External Affairs was quoted as saying.

According to the report, the three-decade long ethnic strife in Sri Lanka had adversely impacted its ties with India and after the 1983 ethnic cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, over 100,000 Tamil refugees had landed in Tamil Nadu, triggering a sympathy wave in the state and severing the sea link from Chennai although the air-link between the two countries remained.

In 2011, a ferry service was resumed between Thoothukudi in south Tamil Nadu to Colombo, but it was stopped due to less traffic.
There has been demand to revive the links between Tamil Nadu and the Tamil-speaking north and north-eastern part of Sri Lanka Jaffna and Trincomalee. “Considering the political sensitivities around the revival of the transport links, we would like to go one step at a time,” the official added.
Ferries are one of the cheapest modes of transport and will be within the framework of increasing connectivity under the BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) regional forum

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