Ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo is expected to commence by February-end, G. K. Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping, said on Monday.
Initially, it would be operational thrice a week. Later, the frequency would be increased.
Inaugurating a passenger terminal and laying the foundation stone for North Cargo Berth II on the premises of Tuticorin Port, he said that TPT would soon be named after freedom fighter V.O. Chidambaram.
While passenger amenities were established at a cost of Rs.2.25 crore, NCB II would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs.332.16 crore in two years.
The sea off the port would be dredged to a depth of 12.8 metres from the present 10.7 metres at a cost of Rs.538 crore by 2012.
“Since Tuticorin remains the gateway of southern Tamil Nadu, there is a huge potential for business in export and import with the logistic support of Tuticorin Port Trust. Following the commencement of ferry services between the two countries, people will witness developments in tourism and trade.”
Tuticorin Port would emerge as the best among all ports complying with standards on a par with international ports. Ten years from now, Indian ports would achieve handling of cargo to 3, 200 million tonnes. An action plan to this effect was devised on January 13 in New Delhi.
Since 10 new power plants were coming up around Tuticorin, the TPT would increase its coal handling capacity to 30 million tonnes in ten years from the existing capacity of 5.6 million tonnes. In 2020, 50 per cent of cargo would be coal.
A new international container terminal would be inaugurated in Kochi next month. Feasibility study for a ferry service from Chennai to Kanyakumari, via Puducherry, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Rameswaram was also being taken up. A ferry service between Rameswaram and Talaimannar was expected to commence soon.
The United Progressive Alliance government was making big strides on the economic front. All schemes formulated by it reached people without delay, he said.
A. Subbiah, Chairman, TPT; Captain Anand Chopra, Senior Vice-President, Shipping Corporation of India; S.R. Jeyadurai, MP, Tuticorin; and Collector C.N. Maheswaran spoke.