Additional ships deployed following protest

Following protest from the people of Lakshadweep who were stranded in Kochi due to the lack of adequate number of ships for transporting them home for the Puja and Bakrid holidays, the Lakshadweep Development Corporation (LDC) deployed additional ships on Monday. Political leaders and student representatives blamed the apathy of LDC officials for the stalemate.

M V Arabia Sea, with 250 passengers, and M V Lakshadweep Sea, carrying 250 passengers, sailed to the Lakshadweep islands from Kochi on Monday morning. M V Amindivi, carrying 150 passengers, left from Kochi in the evening. Anvar Hussain, the Congress Block Secretary, Kalpeni island, said that passengers are still stranded in Kochi and authorities are in no mood to deploy additional ships.

“The LDC officials never take enough measures to transport people to Lakshadweep. They give preference to tourists. The officials send SMS stating that booking for seats have commenced and after a few hours cancel the trip. They block about 30-40 per cent of the seats for tourists. Many students who want to come home for holidays are stranded in Kochi and several may not reach home for Bakrid,” Anvar said.

According to Anvar, various political parties in Lakshadweep are planning to write to the Centre highlighting the travel woes of the people. They also plan to demand the Shipping Corporation to take over the ships from LDC.

“LDC does not have any infrastructure to run and maintain these ships. Due to poor management, majority of the ships are in bad shape. If the Shipping Corporation takes over the ships, they can easily manage it as they have the funds and infrastructure for it,” he added. Taufeeq, a leader of the Lakshadweep Students Association, said that several people who went for Haj were stranded in Kochi. He said that the LDC has failed to arrange proper stay for the stranded people and many have been staying in hotel rooms for the past several days.

Muthu Koya, deputy director, the Ports Department, said that the allegations are baseless and all measures to transport people have been taken. “Three vessels were operated on Monday. We are looking to deploy more vessels, considering the rush during the vacation time,” he said.

Vessel shortage mars operations

Kochi: The LDC, which had sent MV Bharat Seema for a month-long annual maintenance work on August 11, is short of a vessel and necessary number of boats to transport people to the islands. LDC had included MV Bharat Seema in the trip chart for October, even when the ship was not operational. The people in Lakshadweep said that majority of the high-speed crafts which have a capacity of 100 passengers are yet to be out after maintenance work. Besides, people complain that vessels are diverted for additional programs, even when the rush is high. Recently, M V Amindivi was diverted to Androth island, after tickets were sold. As a result, the passengers had to stay in Kochi for two more days for the next trip.