Karaikal-Jaffna ferry service expected to boost tourism

Sri Lankan envoy visits MARG Port at Karaikal to check the facilities

July 07, 2021 12:06 am | Updated 12:09 am IST - KARAIKAL

Untapped potential:  Tourism operators are upbeat about the potential of the Karaikal-Jaffna ferry service.

Untapped potential: Tourism operators are upbeat about the potential of the Karaikal-Jaffna ferry service.

The proposed Karaikal-Jaffna Ferry Service, a component of the Sagarmala Programme of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways for the promotion of coastal shipping, has been given a thrust by the Indian and Sri Lankan governments.

Last week, Doraisamy Venkateshwaran, Deputy High Commissioner, Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission, Chennai, visited the MARG Port here to determine the facilities for the ferry service, covering a distance of 56 nautical miles. He held discussions with the Karaikal Collector Arjun Sharma.

Rajeshwar Reddy, vice-president of port operations, MARG Karaikal Port, said the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner inspected the facilities for start of the service. According to official sources, the service will be implemented on a private-public partnership mode, with the MARG Karaikal Port acting as a facilitator.

Availability of facilities, such as an exclusive berth for passenger service at the port, passenger terminal facilities with requisite amenities suiting Immigration and Customs authorities, and uninterrupted power and parking facility, were assessed for the introduction of the ferry service, sources said.

Last year, the Union Minister for Shipping held discussions with the Puducherry government for starting the ferry service between Karaikal port and Kankesanthurai (KKS) port in Jaffna, to derive the outcomes of reduced travel time, easy and cheap travel alternative, enhanced economic activities between the two countries and smooth connectivity for the pilgrims of both countries. Dredging work at the KKS Harbour was undertaken and completed by the Dredging Corporation of India, a public sector undertaking of the Indian government, to support domestic and regional commerce.

The ferry service will, for sure, strengthen cultural, religious and economic links, A. Muthaiya, president of the Karaikal Chamber of Commerce, said. “We only hope the service is started at the earliest,” he added.

Religious tourism

“Religious tourism will receive a thrust since many from the island nation will visit the famous temples in the Nagapattinam-Karaikal belt,” V.R. Dhanaseelane, president of the Karaikal District Citizens’ Welfare Association, said.

According to tourism and travel industry representatives in Karaikal, pilgrims from Sri Lanka will have easy access to Velankanni church, Nagore dargah, Tirunallar Sri Saneeswaran temple and other places of religious importance in the delta districts.

Pilgrims from Tamil Nadu would be keen on visiting two prominent Hindu places of worship — the Keerimalai Naguleswaram temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the Maviddapuram Kandaswamy temple, dedicated to Lord Murugan, a travel operator said.

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