India is keen to restart ferry services with Sri Lanka and will be discussing this when Prime Minister Modi visits the island nation on March 13-14 as part of his visit to Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Mauritius. The service was suspended indefinitely 30 years ago when hostilities broke out in Sri Lanka over the break-away Tamil Tigers movement. The service used to run between Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.
India’s shipping ministry will hold meetings on March 12 with Ircon International – an engineering company wholly owned by India’s railway ministry – to finish on-going re-construction work in Talaimannar that is required for vessels to dock. Ircon has also had an active role in the rail connectivity project between Jaffna and Kankasanthurai in Sri Lanka. The approximate cost of the project is close to US $800 million and will be provided as aid by India.
According to Sabyasachi Hajara, the former chairman of Shipping Corporation of India: “The Economic community of SAARC should improve. Purely in terms of commercial viability these routes may not be successful but that alone is not required in such strategic decisions”.
As a part of its Look East policy, in 2014 the new Modi government also started a shipping service between India and Myanmar.
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