Boatmen in Ooty stage protest, demand financial support following restrictions

Boatmen staging a sit-in protest at the boat house in Udhagamandalam on Tuesday   | Photo Credit: Sathyamoorthy M

Boatmen at the Ooty Lake and Boat House staged a protest outside the popular tourist attraction on Tuesday, stating that the COVID-19 restrictions announced by the government had put their livelihoods at risk.

The boatmen said that many of them had been working at the Boat House for many years, but they were not permanent staff. Thulasi Das, a boatman who has been working at the Boat House for more than two decades, said that the boatmen were suddenly told that the Boat House would be closed from Tuesday onwards.

“Our livelihoods were already affected by the lockdown last year for around nine months with no income. A similar situation this year will mean financial ruin for all the temporary staff and the families dependent on them,” said Mr. Das, who added that each boatman received ₹50 per boat ride.

“The Tourism Department charges ₹680 for a boat ride with eight passengers, but they only give us ₹50 per ride, while even for a 15-seat boat, for which each ride is charged at ₹1,150, the boatman still gets only ₹50. We have to make do with this income. Now even this has been taken away from us,” he added.

The protesters demanded that they be paid a minimum wage for the duration of the lockdown either by the district administration or by the Tourism Department.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 5:25:55 AM |

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