'Indo-Lanka rail link to be finalised by 2008'

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Colombo, Sep 18: The proposed rail corridor between India and Sri Lanka will be finalised in the second SAARC Transport Ministers' Conference to be held here in March next year, Lankan Transport Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said.

''During the first SAARC Transport Ministers' Conference held in New Delhi last month, we proposed that the next Conference be held in Sri Lanka. This proposal has received the unanimous approval of all member states. The members will make their final decision on the proposed rail corridor and ferry service during the conference,'' Daily News quoted the Minister as saying.

According to the Transport Ministry officials, the proposals to construct the rail link and commence a ferry service between the two countries will be among the highlights of the second Conference.

The proposed rail corridor will be constructed from Colombo to Chennai, while the ferry service will operate from Colombo to Tuticorin.

The Minister said as an initial step, ferry service from Cochin to Talai Mannar which operated around 25 years ago, has been proposed to resume following which the service will be extended from Colombo to Tuticorin on either side.

Mr Alahapperuma said the two proposals if implemented will strengthen bilateral relations and the historic ties between Colombo and New Delhi.

''We expect that these projects will greatly enhance the social and cultural development in both countries. In addition, the Conference will provide a great opportunity for us to learn from the experiences of other South Asian countries regarding developing the transport sector,'' he added.


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