Sea service: On the ferry service between Kankesanthurai and Nagapattinam

The ferry between Tamil Nadu and Northern Sri Lanka holds immense potential

Normal operations of the service — it ran for a few days this month — are to resume in January in view of the northeast monsoon. By then, it is hoped that the authorities, especially in India, would take steps in the interest of the sustainability of the ferry service. With a fare of around ₹7,670 a person for a journey, the difference between this rate and air fares is not competitive enough for anyone to opt for the ferry. Increasing the baggage allowance of 50 kg would help. The provision of amenities at Nagapattinam port such as a dormitory and improving rail connectivity at Nagapattinam require attention, as passengers from Sri Lanka are sure to want to visit Chennai. On the part of Sri Lanka, economists, policymakers and activists should consider promoting economic ties including exports from the Northern Province, given the inherent asymmetrical bilateral relationship. Ultimately, sustained policy attention is critical to making this service a success. After all, Nagapattinam is predominantly agrarian and one of the economically backward spots of Tamil Nadu. So, it is up to the governments of the two countries to ensure that the Nagapattinam-Kankesanthurai ferry service does not meet the fate of the Thoothukudi-Colombo service.