Home Contact Us  

Sri Lanka - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3320, 28 January 2011
Alternative Strategies for Indo-Sri Lankan Relations: Passenger Ferry Service
N Manoharan
Senior Fellow, CLAWS
email: mailtomanohar@gmail.com

With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Passenger Transport by India and Sri Lanka on 7 January 2011, there is hope for a revival of the passenger ferry service between the two countries. The ferry service was suspended in 1983 in the wake of violent ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. As per the recent MoU, two routes have been identified for the ferry - Colombo to Tuticorin and Thalaimanner to Rameshwaram. The service on the first route (Colombo to Tuticorin), which is historically significant, is expected to commence soon. The ferry on this route was launched in 1906 by VO Chidambaram Pillai (called Kappalotia Thamizan), a staunch nationalist and freedom fighter, who challenged British monopoly on ferry services. The service continued uninterrupted even after his death in 1936.

The ferry service will undoubtedly enhance tourism, pilgrimage, trade and other exchanges between the two neighbours. The ferry will immensely benefit especially those who from India wish to make their Sri Lanka visit most cost effective. Although it will take over eight hours for the ship to traverse the distance of about 150 nautical miles between Tuticorin and Colombo, it will save travel expenses by at least one-third of the existing air travel cost. But, for those who wish to travel to the northern part of Sri Lanka, the Rameshwaram-Thalaimannar route will be most economical both in terms of cost and time. Ergo, this was the route used, although illegally, by most of the Tamil refugees who fled from Sri Lanka during various phases of ethnic conflict since the 1980s. 

The passenger ferry will be a boon to pilgrims from both countries. Buddhist sites like Gaya, Saranath, Shravasti, Nalanda and Kushinagar are popular among Sri Lankan Buddhists, who would prefer a cheaper mode of transport for their pilgrimage. A feeder train service from Tuticorin or Rameshwaram connecting these sites would make the pilgrimage more convenient and popular. Similarly, Indians who wish to visit the ‘Ramayana Trail’ - a trail of 52 sites related to the epic, Ramayana - can do so conveniently by taking the ferry rather than the air route. Sri Lanka has emerged as the most popular tourist destination for the middle class Indian. Indians top the list of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka in recent years. Last year, Sri Lanka overtook Maldives to become the second largest tourist host in South Asia, next only to India. An affordable ferry service would bolster this figure to a new high. Sri Lanka is likely to benefit more than India due to the planned service.

Since the ship service will allow a comparatively larger baggage allowance, it is expected to enhance trade between the two countries, although in a small way. The allowance can be increased from the proposed 100 kgs per passenger if there is a genuine demand and need for it. Serious monitoring of patterns of movement of baggage by passengers will help. The ferry will also help to transport Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, who are currently in India, as and when they wish to go back. The Colombo Dockyard is also expected to gain due to orders to build vessels to ferry passengers, as the service will be mostly run by private operators.

Although there are plans to have seven boat services (four from India and three from Sri Lanka) on the Colombo-Tuticorin route per day, the exact frequency will be considered in due course depending on the demand among travellers. Requisite infrastructural arrangements like immigration-counters, customs offices and other security paraphernalia in the ports identified, however, are yet to come up so as to make the ferry service smooth and without much start-up delays. Both countries can also consider ferry services on other maritime routes - for instance, Colombo to Kochi - to enhance people-to-people contact and revive historical and traditional links between the two countries.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-Maldives Relations: A Tale of Two Concerns

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh: Designs and Network in India

India-Sri Lanka: Time to Settle the Fishermen Issue

Sri Lanka: A New Base for ISI against India?

Ebola: Concerns for India

Left-wing Extremism 2013: The Threat Continues

Maldives 2013: End of Political Stalemate

CHOGM, India and Sri Lanka: New Delhi’s Missed Opportunities

Sri Lanka: TNA in the Northern Province

Presidential Elections in Maldives: A Pre-Poll Analysis

Indian Mujahideen: After Yasin Bhatkal's Arrest

India and the Peace Process in Sri Lanka: So Close, Yet So Far

Sri Lanka and the 13th Amendment: The Arithmetic of ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’

Sri Lanka and the 13th Amendment: Reconciling Differing Viewpoints

Naxal Violence: What should be Done to Counter?

Sri Lanka: Third UNHRC Resolution and India’s Dilemma

Hyderabad Terror Attacks: Road-blocks in the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC)

Maldives: GMR, Nexbis and the Tale of Two Ousters

Maldives: Indian Investments vis-a-vis Chinese Footprints

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s India Visit: Taking the Ties Forward

Sri Lanka: 25 Years After the IPKF

IPCS Debate: The UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka

Devolution in Sri Lanka: The Latest Take

‘Taming the Tigers’: Reintegration of Surrendered LTTE Cadres

Fishing in Troubled Waters: Indian Fishermen and India-Sri Lanka Relations

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.