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Ferry Service Resumes in Chilika After Lockdown Hiatus

Balugaon: After a lull of seven months due to Covid-19 induced lockdown, ferry services in the Chilika lake restarted here on Wednesday.

Following the fifth phase of unlock guideline implementation, the State Tourism department and the district administration have allowed the ferry services to resume in the brackish water lagoon with Covid-19 norms in place.

According to the guidelines issued by the district administration, the operators have been asked to sanitise the boats properly. All the tourists should hand wash properly and go through thermal screening process in the entry and exit points.

All boat owners should ferry tourists only if they are using face masks. Adequate man power should be deployed by the boat associations to ensure proper social distancing among the tourists. Elderly people and persons underlying medical conditions are asked to take extra precautions.

The resumption of the boat services has given a glimmer of hope to boat owners, riders and the association members who have been struggling amid the pandemic crisis and lockdown for nearly seven months.

“We totally depend upon ferrying tourists in Chilika to eke out a living. Our livelihood was at stake during the lockdown. We were working as day labourers to earn our living during that period. It was a very difficult time but now we are very happy to be back into our profession. We are thankful to the district administration for allowing us to ferry again in Chilika,” said a boat rider.

“We will abide by all the guidelines of the administration to keep Covid-19 at bay,” a boat owner assured.

Though tourists will be allowed for boat rides in the lagoon, they will be deprived of visiting the famous Kalijai temple inside the lake as the state government is yet to allow the temples to reopen.

“The tourists can’t visit Kalijai temple, but they have many other options to visit. They can visit the periphery of the temple and watch dolphins. They can also visit the abode of various birds like Nalabana, Chadhei Haga islands and Kalijugeswar hill” said Kalijai Motor Boat Association senior member Murali Behera.

“We hope the district administration’s decision is a very good development both for the tourists and boat owners. Now tourists can enjoy the scenic beauty of Chilika and the boat owners and riders will get the opportunity to earn their living,” added Behera.

(Edited by Suryakant Jena)

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