India-Sri Lanka joint committee discusses resumption of ferry service

A joint commission to strengthen bilateral connectivity has held “productive discussions” about resuming ferry services between India and Sri Lanka to boost regional trade and tourism and encourage stronger people-to-people ties.

The India-Sri Lanka Joint Committee established under the Memorandum of Understanding on Passenger Transport by Sea held a virtual meeting last week.

“The productive discussions focused on the resumption of ferry services between the two countries, connecting mutually agreed points,” India’s High Commissioner said in a statement here on Monday.

Both sides agree that the resumption of ferry services will boost regional trade and tourism and encourage stronger people-to-people ties, it said.

The meeting came ahead of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s planned visit to India later this week.

The two sides were respectively chaired by Rajesh Kumar Sinha, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, and KDS Ruwanchandra, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation, Government of Sri Lanka.

The Joint Committee identified a number of areas for mutual cooperation to operationalize ferry services in the near future and wished to take further steps based on mutual understanding, the statement said.

The Joint Committee was recently reconstituted by the Governments of India and Sri Lanka under the terms of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on Passenger Transport by Sea signed in 2011.

The ferry service was discontinued in the 1980s.

Both sides were due to launch a swagger service in April, which was later delayed as India changed the port chosen for the service.

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