Launch of India-Sri Lanka ferry service truly big step: External Affairs Minister Jaishankar

In his remarks at a virtual ceremony on the launch of the ferry service, Jaishankar said that New Delhi has a "generous and far-sighted approach" to its proximate nations, with a focus on connectivity, cooperation and contacts.

Updated - October 16, 2023 12:55 pm IST

Published - October 14, 2023 12:08 pm IST - New Delhi

 External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar | Photo Credit: ANI

“The launch of a passenger ferry service from Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam to Kankesanthurai near Jaffna in Sri Lanka is a “truly big step” for boosting people-to-people contacts,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on October 14.

In his remarks at a virtual ceremony on the launch of the ferry service, Jaishankar said that New Delhi has a "generous and far-sighted approach" to its proximate nations, with a focus on connectivity, cooperation and contacts.

"In future, we are looking at grid connection, pipeline and economic corridor. And of course, support for all in Sri Lanka to live in equal dignity and equal rights," he said.

India has been conveying to Colombo to fulfill the aspirations of the Tamil community in the island nation and ensure a life of respect and dignity for it. The ferry service was launched in line with an announcement made by the leaders of the two countries in July.

Also Read |India, Sri Lanka moving towards ‘new chapter of diplomatic and economic relations’: PM Modi

"This is a truly big step for people-to-people contacts between India and Sri Lanka. And it was so recognised by Prime Minister Modi and President Ranil Wickremesinghe," Jaishankar said.

“The high-speed ferry is operated by the Shipping Corporation of India and has a capacity of 150 passengers. The distance of about 60 nautical miles (110 Km) between Nagapattinam and Kankesanthurai will be covered in approximately 3.5 hours depending on sea conditions,” according to officials.

In his remarks, Jaishankar also highlighted India's 'Neighbourhood First policy' and its focus on boosting connectivity and cooperation with neighbouring countries.

"And that is exactly what we are seeking to do through this ferry. This is already visible in the Chennai-Jaffna flights that Prime Minister Modi has sanctioned," he said.

"Such steps are a natural decision by a Prime Minister who has Tamil Nadu so close to his heart and who has taken so much interest in the welfare of all in Sri Lanka," he said.

"After all, who can forget that Prime Minister Modiji is the first Indian Prime Minister ever to visit Jaffna. This commitment is also seen in support for housing projects, cultural centres and hospitals in Sri Lanka," Jaishankar said.

He also referred to India's policy of SAGAR (Security and Growth For All in the Region) and noted that the country has again been active in ensuring maritime security and safety, as well as in disaster response and environment security.

"This ferry is an important people-to-people connect through the maritime domain. It also underlines the assistance we have provided for the smooth functioning of the Kankesanthurai harbour," he said.

The External Affairs Minister also highlighted India's focus on ease of living - or how to make life easier for a common citizen. "It is these steps — a ferry today, an air connection before, smoother visas, more tourism — that really matter," he said.

"And finally, there is the easier to do business commitment of the Modi government. The ferry will directly facilitate cargo services, as you all heard, and particularly help small businesses. Its benefits will reach those who otherwise may be left behind," the External Affairs Minister said.

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