India and Sri Lanka will start a passenger ferry service in January 2023 between Kankesanthurai/KKS (Northern Province Sri Lanka's Jaffna district) and Puducherry/Pondicherry, media reports said.
According to Nimal Siripala de Silva (Ports, Shipping, and Civil Aviation Minister), arrangements had been made to start the ferry service in mid-January.
The minister added the Indian government had extended consent for the service.
"A large number of Indian citizens are engaged in business activities in the Jaffna Peninsula. With such engagement, the new service is expected to generate a large portion of foreign revenue. It will also be of immense convenience for Buddhist pilgrims to India."
The minister said passenger transport services would also be started from south India to Sri Lanka's ports Trincomalee and Colombo. Till now no firm conclusion had been reached about starting the ferry service between India and Thalaimannar (Sri Lanka's Mannar Island).
De Silva added that step of beginning the ferry service had been taken on the demand of the people of both countries.
During the discussion with ferry owners, they emphasized that the existing facilities at the ports should be upgraded to continue providing passenger service.
Image : Port of Colombo (Sri Lanka)
The minister instructed the Ports, Shipping, and Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary to take immediate steps to develop infrastructure related to immigration, emigration, and customs, as well as other facilities at the Sri Lankan ports according to government procurement procedures.
The ships under the new service will carry 300-400 passengers on a journey that will take ~3.5 hours between destinations.
Ferry owners suggested they would have to charge US$60 (~LKR 21,000) per passenger for a one-way crossing and each traveler could carry up to 100 kg of luggage.