Jagatsinghpur, Jan 7 (LocalWire) Despite frequent boat mishaps, unsafe ferry services continue in different areas of Jagatsinghpur district.
Danger lurks in water for hundreds of people, including women and children, who regularly commute in country-made, wooden boats on Mahanadi, Devi, Hansua and other rivers.
Sources said Bhandishai ghat and Badakan ghat in Naugaon block, from where people of Jagatsinghpur and Puri cross Devi river regularly, in miserable condition.
On the other hand, people of Jambu, Mahakalpada and other areas of Kendrapada district come to Paradip every day by crossing the river at Bahakuda ferry ghat, which is also in a dilapidated condition, just like the boats that ferry passengers.
Most of these passengers are workers at Essar steel project, IFFCO, PPL, Paradip Port Trust, Oil Refinery project of IOCL and other industries.
Despite restrictions, illegal boats and motor launches are operating in different ghats of Jagatsinghpur district but nothing has been done to check the plying of old, dilapidated and un-registered boats in different areas of this district, said sources.
Since there are no upper primary and high schools at coastal villages of Dahibar, Kholapa, Japa, Dhobeijungle, Jhatipari and other villages of Japa panchayat, hundreds of students from class VI to X go to neighbouring Ambiki panchayat to study in upper primary and high schools.
These schools are located six kilometers away from their village if they would go via kutcha road. The pitiable condition of the kutcha road makes students take ferry boat via Hansua River.
Villagers said it is just 200 meter of water spread that separates these villages from Ambiki Panchyat of Erasama block on the other side. The travel time is less than 15 minutes, which otherwise takes nearly 1 hour by road. Hence, despite being aware of the danger, they prefer taking the ferry.
Ambiki panchyat sarpanch Saudamini Pradhan said: “Villagers have been demanding a bridge on Hansua River since 50 years, but no one heard about the plight of these people. Absence of bridge and proper road connectivity have had a telling impact on the lives of the people, including school students, women and children.”
“On many occasions, boat mishaps occur, but neither the administration nor the government has learnt a lession to improve the ferry services in which villagers are living in panicky conditions,” she said.
District Fishery Officer Subrat Das has informed that department has right to cancel the license of the boat owner if he would press fishing boat in ferry services but no power to take action against them.
Lack of staff has hit patrolling, he said.