Lanka-Tuticorin ferry service gets cabinet approval
Paving the way for better links between the subcontinent and Sri Lanka, the Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the commencement of a passenger ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo. According to a press release from the ministry of shipping, a memorandum of understanding will soon be signed between governments of India and Sri Lanka for providing a joint mechanism for passenger transportation between India and Sri Lanka. Initially, passenger ferry services would run between Tuticorin and Colombo and subsequently the facility would be extended to other routes, namely one between Rameswaram and Talaimannar. The ministry of shipping has tasked Tuticorin Port Trust with the creation of infrastructure for commencement of passenger services. The distance between Colombo and Tuticorin is about 152 nautical miles and the duration of journey will be about 10 to 12 hours. The passenger fare will be significantly cheaper compared to airfare between these destinations as of now. It is believed that the service would strengthen ties between the countries and ease the flow of refugees back and forth from Lanka. The resumption of the service is seen to herald the revival of better transportation links and greater trade ties between the two nations. The island nation, scarred by the memories of a two-decade long ethnic war which claimed over 60,000 lives, is expected to welcome the patronage of Indian travellers with the launch of the passenger ferry service. It is expected to reduce security barriers. The British had begun the first ferry service between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in 1914. The route was patronised by both Indian and Sri Lankan traders and also by pleasure travellers. After a cyclone wrecked Dhanushkodi port in 1964, the service was shifted to Rameswaram. The ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar continued till 1983 when the war between the LTTE and Lankan government peaked. The service had remained suspended for two decades.