• otv
Dilip Kumar

Jeypore: It was like a ‘dream come true’ for people living in the remote areas of Lamataput in Koraput district when the Odisha government launched boat ambulance services almost two years ago to help patients in villages cut off from the mainland by rivers to reach hospitals.

But, a year after the reality is quite different. The boats which supposed to be used for emergency services are lying idle at the ghats for the past many months as the official clearances for their operation are still to be obtained.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had launched the ambitious boat ambulance services in February last year via video conference.

The boats were meant to provide emergency services to around 40 villages of Kumargandhana, Banamaliput, Umbel and Tikarpada Gram Panchayats which are cut off from the mainland by the Sindhuput river in Lamataput block of the district.

Following the non-implementation of the services for months together, locals said it would have been better if the government had constructed a bridge over the river instead.

"We could have been greatly benefitted if the boat ambulance services were implemented in time. Our suffering continues since the boat services remained a non-starter," rued Dhanurjay Badnayak, the Sarpanch of Tikarpada.

The reason behind the delay, sources pointed out, was on account of the absence of the necessary orders from higher authorities to the boat operators to start the services.

"We are here for the last three-four months to drive the boats. However, the necessary official formalities are yet to be completed. We are waiting for a go-ahead from the higher authorities to commence the services", said Prasant Kumar Sethy, a boat ambulance driver.

The manager of the Ambulance services attributed the problem to the absence boat ramp or floating jetty. "The ramps are expected to be installed this month. However, higher officials would decide on the installation of ramps. The services will start once the floating jetties are put up," claimed Saroj Patnaik, manager of the ambulance services.

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