India and Sri Lanka resume ferry service after forty years

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India and Sri Lanka are embarking on a new chapter in diplomatic and economic relations.  He was addressing the launch of ferry services between Nagapattinam, India and Kankesanthurai, Sri Lanka via video message today. Mr. Modi said, the launch of a ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai is an important milestone in strengthening the relations as both countries share a deep history of culture. 

Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the Ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanturai. External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar also joined the event virtually which is a resumption of the ferry service after forty years. The ship will reach Kankesanturai port in three hours if the weather is normal. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Modi pointed out that Nagapattinam and nearby towns have been known for sea trade with many countries including Sri Lanka and the historical port of Poompuhar finds a mention as a hub in ancient Tamil literature.

He also spoke about Sangam age literature like Pattinappalai and Manimekalai which describe the movement of boats and ships between the two countries. He also touched upon the great poet Subramania Bharti’s song ‘Sindhu Nadhiyin Misai’, which mentions a bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka. He further added that the ferry service brings alive all those historical and cultural connections. The Prime Minister recalled his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015 when direct flights between Delhi and Colombo were launched. Later, the Prime Minister added, the landing of the first international flight in the pilgrim town of Kushinagar from Sri Lanka was also celebrated. He also informed that direct flights between Chennai and Jaffna began in 2019, and now the ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai is yet another important step in this direction.

 Speaking at the event, External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar said that it was the dream of people in both countries to have closer ties. Speaking at the flagging-off event, he said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made this dream a reality. The Minister mentioned that his leadership has brought the two nations much closer together. He added that Mr. Modi was the first Prime Minister from India to provide Jaffna his assistance to rebuild the lives of the Srilankan people which is phenomenal.

In a video message at the event, Srilankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe expressed happiness at India's initiatives in helping the island Nation in resuming the ferry service. He said that the connectivity which was stopped during the war in the island Nation has resumed after peace returned. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Shipping Corporation for making it happen. He hoped that people would visit Sri Lanka and India. Air and sea connectivity would benefit both the Nations, he added.

Srilankan Minister De Silva said that people-to-people Sri Lanka ties would improve with this service. He appreciated the  Excellent leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made the dreams a reality. He said that people of the Northern part of Sri Lanka would like to visit Boddha Gaya and many places in India. He said that the Srilankan Port was developed at a cost of 600 million in Srilankan money. He said Sri Lanka was grateful to India which gave the assistance. He said that Talaimannar and Rameswaram service would begin soon. The Minister said that the Government spent 600 million to repair the port in Thalai Mannar. 

State Minister for Ports E.V.Velu said that trade flourished between India Sri Lanka and Singapore through the Nagapattinam port.  He also said that an all-weather passenger shipping service would improve service between the two countries so that people of both countries could travel throughout the year.

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