Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday called the launch of a ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai an “important step” in increasing the connectivity between the two nations.
In a video message on the launch of the ferry service, Wickremesinghe stated, “This is an important step in increasing the connectivity between India and Sri Lanka. For thousands of years, people have traversed the Palk Strait to travel from the Indian subcontinent to this island and from Sri Lanka back to the Indian subcontinent. This is how our culture has developed. This is how our trade developed.”
Wickremesinghe said that the connectivity between the two nations was disrupted due to the war in the north. However, he noted that the peace has returned and the two nations can re-establish sea connectivity. He expressed hope that more and more people will travel to Sri Lanka from India.
“The connectivity between our two countries was disrupted due to the war in the north. Now peace has returned and we can reestablish the sea connectivity. I discussed this matter with Prime Minister Modi and I must thank him and the Indian Shipping Cooperation for the role they have played in reestablishing this connectivity,” Wickremesinghe said.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar joined the event virtually.
In a video message on the launch of the ferry service, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the launch of ferry services between Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai is an important milestone in strengthening the relations between the two countries.
Speaking at the launch of the ferry services, PM Modi said, “We are embarking on a new chapter in the diplomatic and economic relations between India and Sri Lanka. The launch of a ferry service between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai is an important milestone in strengthening our relations.”
Underlining that India and Sri Lanka share a deep history of culture, commerce and civilization, PM Modi said, “Nagapattinam and towns nearby have long been known for sea trade with many countries, including Sri Lanka. The historical port of Poompuhar has been mentioned as a hub in ancient Tamil literature. Sangam age literature like Pattinappalai and Manimekalai speaks about boats and ships moving between India and Sri Lanka.”
“Great Poet Subramania Bharti in his song ‘Sindhu Nadhiyin Misai’, had spoken of a bridge connecting our two countries. This ferry service brings alive all those historical and cultural connections,” he added.
Pointing out that connectivity is the central theme of the partnership between India and Sri Lanka, PM Modi said, “During the recent visit of President Wickremesinghe, we jointly adopted a vision document for our economic partnership. Connectivity is not only about bringing two cities closer. It also brings our countries closer, our people closer and our hearts closer. Connectivity enhances trade, tourism and people-to-people ties. It also creates opportunities for the youth of both countries.”
S Jaishankar called the launch of a passenger ferry service between Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Sri Lanka’s Kankesanthurai “truly a big step” for people-to-people contacts between the two nations.
Jaishankar said, “We are gathered here this morning to witness the launch of the passenger ferry from Nagapattinam to Kankesanthurai. This is truly a big step for people-to-people contacts between India and Sri Lanka and it was so recognized by Prime Minister Modi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe.”
“But the occasion is more than just a ferry launch. It is an affirmation of the people-centric policies of the Modi government that have helped both those in Tamil Nadu and those in Sri Lanka’s northern province,” he added.
The ferry service between Nagappatinam in India and Kankesanthurai (KKS) near Jaffna is a high-speed ferry operated by the Shipping Corporation of India and has a capacity of 150 passengers, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) press release.
The distance of about 60 nm (110 Km) between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai will be covered in approximately 3.5 hours depending on sea conditions, according to MEA.