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India offers US $61.5 million grant to ‘fully develop’ KKS port

The ferry service between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Kankesanthurai (KKS) in Jaffna being launched last year.

India’s newly appointed Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Santhosh Jha confirmed the his government would provide a grant of US $61.5 million to “fully develop” the Kankesanthurai (KKS) Port.

Jha made the announcement during a recent meeting between Sri Lanka’s Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. As part of the port’s expansion, a new breakwater is to be constructed and the port will be dredged to a depth of 30 meters to accommodate deep-draft vessels. 

The latest move from New Delhi comes just weeks after Jha toured the Tamil North-East, and follows a ramping up of Indian projects across the Tamil homeland.

During the discussion, the Indian High Commissioner expressed India's commitment to enhancing regional cooperation between the two nations and pledged the fullest assistance to attract more Indian tourists to Sri Lanka. 

The Sri Lankan minister reportedly highlighted how over the past nine months, a significant number of Indian tourists have visited the island.

The announcement comes as Jha spoke at the Sri Lanka-India Society this week, highlighting the various ways in which New Delhi was seeking to expedite connectivity to the North-East. 

“When I speak of connectivity, I mean all its dimensions – air, maritime, trade, digital, energy or people-to-people connectivity,” he said.He spoke of daily flights between Jaffna and Chennai and the launch of ferry services from Tamil Nadu to the North-East.

“However, the most ambitious recent venture and also the most impactful in terms of potential has to be the India-Sri Lanka Land Connectivity Corridor,” he continued. “We are now taking the first steps to translate this game-changing initiative into real action on the ground. Once built, this connectivity corridor will transform our relations, epitomise our unbreakable partnership, and possibly uplift vast populations that it will connect, into a new era of growth and prosperity.”

Read more, including the ambassador’s full address, here.

The ferry service between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, and Kankesanthurai (KKS) in Jaffna, was first inaugurated on October 14, 2023. The high-speed ferry, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India, marked the revival of sea connectivity between Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu after a hiatus of 40 years.

In a speech delivered on the occasion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the historical significance of the ferry service, emphasising the shared cultural and economic heritage between India and the island.

"Nagapattinam and towns near-by have long been known for sea trade with many countries, including Sri Lanka,” said Modi. “The historical port of Poompuhar has been mentioned as a hub in ancient Tamil literature. Sangam age literature like Pattinappalai and Manimekalai speaks about boats and ships moving between India and Sri Lanka. Great Poet Subramania Bharti in his song ‘Sindhu Nadhiyin Misai’, had spoken of a bridge connecting our two countries. This ferry service brings alive all those historical and cultural connections."

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