Centre clears Colombo ferry service, all set for launch

TUTICORIN Nov. 13. The stage appears set for commencement of the passenger ferry service between Tuticorin and Colombo, with the Union Government giving its approval.

Indications are a Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian and Sri Lankan Governments will be signed in Chennai on November 23 and the ferry service will be inaugurated the next day.

Preliminary arrangements such as provision of a berth to receive the ship, a waiting hall, refreshments, customs, immigration and foreign exchange facilities and security measures are in progress in the Tuticorin port.

The Port Trust Chairman, N. K. Raghupathy, chaired a high-level coordination meeting here on Monday. It was attended by officials of the police, the Central Industrial Security Force, Customs and the port.

Mr. Raghupathy told The Hindu yesterday that temporary arrangements would be made for clearing passengers in case the facilities were not completed in time.

A shallow berth or additional berth No. 1 would be used for vessels carrying passengers. The recently-inaugurated warehouse no. IV inside the port area would be modified and part of it utilised as a passenger terminal as well as for customs and immigration clearance.

Dedicated parking space would be created for vehicles for use by the passengers.

In course of time, baggage scanning machines would be installed in the terminal, by the Customs department and another would be procured by the port.

Mr. Raghupathy said the exact number of services a week, the number of operators, ticketing agents, and steamer agents and the forex facility would be finalised by the week-end.

It would be ideal to receive the vessel in the afternoon and schedule departure in the morning.

The Port was also considering interacting with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation on starting services to destinations in south Tamil Nadu.

Record handling of rock phosphate

Meanwhile, the port has set a new record in rock phosphate unloading. On November 11, m.v. Arcadia Progress unloaded 7,865 tonnes, the highest quantity of rock phosphate removed in a single day in the Port.

The previous record was 7,617 tonnes, unloaded from the same vessel on September 19.

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