The ferry service between Nagapattinam in India and Kankesanthurai (KKS) near Jaffna in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka commenced on October 14, 2023. The ferry was flagged-off from Nagapattinam by the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways of India Shri Sarbananda Sonowal at the Port and the External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar through video link. The ceremony was addressed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of Sri Lanka H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe virtually. The Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation of the Government of Sri Lanka, Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva also joined the event virtually.
2. In his address, Prime Minister Narendra 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, 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 added that the Governments will continue to work closely to start ferry services on the traditional Rameswaram-Talaimannar sector too.
3. In his remarks, highlighting the important role of ferry services in enhancing people-to-people ties between the two countries, President Ranil Wickeremesinghe thanked the Government of India and the Shipping Corporation of India for taking steps to commence the service.
4. External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar underlined that the launch of ferry is an affirmation of the people-centric policies of the Government of India. 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 highlighted that establishment of air and sea connectivity, smooth processing of visas and strengthening tourism links will make the lives of common people easier.
5. Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways of India Shri Sarabananda Sonowal 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. In his remarks, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Aviation of Sri Lanka, Hon. Nimal Siripala deSilva thanked the Government of India for the assistance extended in upgradation of the KKS Harbour which will bring immense benefits to the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
6. 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 approx. 4 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.