Concern at safety of many boats that operate from Marine Drive

Aimed at standardising the service and fares of tourist boats operating from Marine Drive, Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) is gearing up to launch a fleet of big and small vessels.

This comes against the backdrop of complaints that unscrupulous private tourist-boat operators are fleecing people and that many boats operating here do not conform to safety norms.

The Secretary of Ernakulam DTPC, T N Jayasankar, said the agency renovated a boat jetty on the walkway near High Court so that it could begin operating cruises in the backwaters and up to the sea mouth.

“We are in the process of finalising plans to procure a modern sea-worthy vessel that can carry up to 150 people to the sea mouth. It may cost up to Rs 3 crore and can be built at Cochin Shipyard or at private shipyards. There is a huge potential to operate regular services all through the year,” he said.

The agency is also working on purchasing a solar-powered boat that can carry up to 10 people, costing not more than Rs 15 lakh.

Though Kerala Tourism had paid Rs 2 crore advance to a private shipyard in Aroor for two tourist boats for the DTPC, they are not ready yet. “We intend to seek three more vessels in the 2014 budget so that the DTPC has a fleet of different types of vessels,” Mr Jayasankar said.

Apart from Marine Drive, boat operators had evinced interest in operating tourist boats from Cheranallore, Eloor and Varapuzha – islands located close to each other. They have their own boat jetties that need renovation. “Stakeholders are keen on operating modern river ships from these places and we hope to get DTPC’s support,” said an entrepreneur.

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