India and Sri Lanka have decided to resume the ferry service between Cochin and Colombo after 25 years.
The decision was taken on Saturday at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) transport ministers’ conference here which was attended by an Indian delegation led by minister of state for road transport and highways, R P N Singh.
The ferry service that was popular among regular visitors to the two countries was discontinued in 1985 after security became an issue as the fight between the LTTE and the Lankan army intensified.
“We have decided in-principle to resume the service. We will soon meet again to decide on the details,’’ the Lankan Transport Minister, Dullas Alahapperuma, told HT.
Calling it a “landmark’’ decision, Alahapperuma said the issue of resuming the service was first raised at last year’s meeting of SAARC transport ministers in New Delhi.
“We had made the request and it was agreed upon by the Indian side this year,’’ he said.
Previous efforts to have ferry services between Colombo and south Indian ports were stale because of security concerns arising from the ethnic war.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund on Friday approved a $2.6-billion loan for Sri Lanka.
A first installment of about $322.2 million was immediately made available to Sri Lanka, while the remainder will be phased in “subject to quarterly reviews,” the multilateral institution said.
International rights bodies had said that the loan should only be given after the Lankan government was investigated for human rights abuses during the last phase of the war with the LTTE.