Lakshadweep islanders hit the streets over depleted passenger ship fleet

Most vessels docked for maintenance work

Published - June 24, 2022 08:36 pm IST - KOCHI

A protest march taken out by the NCP to the Lakshadweep Administration office in Kochi on Friday.

A protest march taken out by the NCP to the Lakshadweep Administration office in Kochi on Friday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The anger and frustration of Lakshadweep islanders over the depleted fleet of passenger vessels leaving transportation facilities linking them with the mainland awfully short boiled over and found expression in a protest here on Friday.

From seven vessels facilitating the daily movement of not less than 3,200 passengers from various islands, it has now been reduced to just two vessels with a combined capacity of just over 600, with the rest being docked reportedly for maintenance work.

The protest demanding restoration of transportation facilities by deploying the full fleet of vessels was organised jointly by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), its youth outfit Nationalist Youth Congress, and the Lakshadweep Students’ Association in front of the Lakshadweep Administration office on Willingdon Island.

Inaugurating the meeting, NCP State president P.C. Chacko alleged that the move to cut short the number of services was a vindictive action aimed at isolating the people of the archipelago. He said that not sanctioning funds for the maintenance of the vessels at the Cochin Shipyard was a deliberate ploy towards that end.

Mr. Chacko asked the Centre to protect Lakshadweep from the autocratic rule of its Administrator. He also warned of taking the protests to Delhi unless the administration put an end to what he regarded as anti-people policies.

P.P. Mohammed Faizal, Lakshadweep MP, warned of launching the next phase of a more intense protest unless the issue was resolved at the earliest. Delivering the keynote address, Mr. Faizal accused the Lakshadweep Administrator of functioning without clear perspectives, plans, and consultations.

K.I. Nizamuddin, Kavaratti panchayat member, said notwithstanding the reduced movement of people during monsoon, the drop in the number of vessels to two had hit hard the movement of all sections of people, including students and patients. He alleged that the failure to complete maintenance of vessels before the onset of monsoon pointed to lack of farsightedness.

Ahead of the protest meeting, a march was taken out from the Harbour Terminus railway station to the office of the Lakshadweep Administration.

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