Boatmen stage protest demanding revoking of ban on passenger ferry

Chilika: Boatmen in villages and around Chilika lake today staged a protest demanding revoking of the restrictions imposed on ferrying of passengers in the lake by Khurda district administration and Chilika Development Authority following a boat tragedy in July.

The agitators comprising boat owners of Balugaon, Mathapur, Badakula and Samantrapur staged a demonstration before the CDA alleging that the ban has affected their livelihood.

With no signs of revoking of the ban, many boatmen have started migrating to other places in search of jobs, they rued.

“Accidents occur in all modes of transportation,but stopping of the service altogether is not the solution.We don’t understand why the administration has stopped us from ferrying passengers. How will our families run?” asked Satyabana Behera, a boatman.

As many as 300 boatman families depend on ferrying passengers in the lake for their livelihood, informed sources.

Jhunu Behera, another villager said, “We used to earn livelihood by ferrying tourists. However we are clueless now. We have no money to even thatch the roof of our houses.”

“We don’t understand why the administration is so harsh to us.If we are not allowed to ferry passengers, the government should provide us alternatives,” said Debesh Panda, a boat owner.

}