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First India-Sri Lanka passenger ferry for 30 years

[BBC, Tuesday, 14 June 2011 07:48 No Comment]

_53390479_53390478 The first passenger boat service between India and its close southern neighbour, Sri Lanka, in three decades has arrived in Colombo.

Scotia Prince set off from the southern Indian port of Tuticorin on Monday evening and docked in Colombo harbour early Tuesday, a port official said.

The boat can carry more than 1,000 people. It has a bar, restaurant, casino and hospital.

Ferries were suspended during the Sri Lankan civil war, which ended in 2009.

After the Scotia Prince’s maiden voyage, bringing invited VIPs, there will be about two crossings each way per week.

This service is run by an Indian company, Flemingo, which also owns a chain of duty-free shops.

Another boat, to start operating soon, is run by Sri Lanka’s state-owned Ceylon Shipping Corporation.

Tuticorin to Colombo is an entirely new route.

The old ferry service, which stopped 30 years ago, linked the Indian temple town of Rameshwaram to Mannar, a part of northern Sri Lanka heavily affected by the war.

Officials say the ferries will be considerably cheaper than the planes that link Colombo with southern India – meaning less affluent people from both countries can now cross.

Correspondents, however, say the ferry is resuming at a time of particularly bad relations between Sri Lanka and the nearest Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

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