Tamil Nadu: Push for Rameswaram-Sri Lanka ferry service | Chennai News

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu people seeking to carry out trade in northern Sri Lanka can look forward to taking a ferry ride to the island nation in the morning, carry out business and return the same evening as ferry service is set to begin between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka in a few months.
Highways and minor ports minister E V Velu on Saturday said in the assembly that efforts would be taken to launch short ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar (50km) and Kankesanthurai (100km). An official told TOI that the Centre had given in-principle approval to the project to better bilateral ties with Lanka.


The state maritime board has sent a detailed project report to the Centre for approval. “Rameswaram minor port does not have facilities. The state has been in touch with the Union government, which is keen on starting the project and is ready to fund the development of the port to launch the ferry service,” said a source.
The development may cost 10-15 crore. The Union ministries of external affairs and port, shipping and waterways have agreed to the project. The ferry can go at a speed of 30 knots between Rameswaram and Talaimannar. With 150-passenger seating capacity, the travel time will be one and two hours to Talaimannar and Kankesanthurai respectively. The sheltered waters of Palk Bay would aid the project, sources said.
A video conference of the Sri Lankan High Commission, ministries of external affairs and port, shipping and waterways and the Tamil Nadu government took place last week. The Union government will float Expression of Interest to identify ferry operators to operate from Rameswaram.
“The state government is interested in readying the entire project in six months. The construction of the jetty is the only bottleneck. The Centre and state governments and Sri Lanka are on the same page as regards launching ferry service,” an official said.
The ferry service will help small time traders as well, as personal baggage will be allowed in the range of 100-150kg. There are also plans to include partial cargo service in the next phase.
Subsequently, cargo services will be allowed from Rameswaram to Lanka with a capacity of 300-500 tonnes. “The state government has already sent a detailed proposal worth 600 crore to have a bigger facility to the Union ministry of shipping and the discussion is going on,” the official said.

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