Hundreds of Lakshadweep passengers were stranded as the M V Kavaratti, supposed to begin its journey from February 19, failed to set sail from the Kochi harbour.
Nearly a week has gone by and the Lakshadweep Development Corporation (LDC), the government-owned passenger vessel management company, is yet to conduct an inquire into the issue.
The ship has been currently docked for repairs owing to severe AC and engine complaints. Tourists, who were supposed to travel to Lakshadweep, were forced to cancel their trips, while most of the passengers to Kavaratti and Amini islands have been stranded here for the past one week. A high-speed vessel, deployed to deliver the stranded passengers to the islands, developed engine troubles at sea and the passengers were brought back to the Kochi harbour on Sunday noon.
Crew members allege that M V Kavaratti developed severe complaints as the due maintenance and repairs were not conducted properly for the past four years, ever since its introduction into the Indian seas in 2008. “We had raised the issue to the authorities concerned. The air conditioning facility on the ship is faulty. During the past years, two of the three AC plants developed problems. Recently, the third plant also got damaged, making the journey a challenging one,” the employees said.
As for the employees who use the cabin close to the engine, the situation is unbearable. For the past many days, the passengers and crew have been sleeping on the open deck of M V Kavaratti. The crew added that though the ships are being taken to the docks for repair every now and then, only peripheral maintenance takes place. For maintenance purposes, crores of rupees are being allotted to the LDC yearly. However, the funds are being illegally utilised by the LDC, the crew members alleged.
A highly placed official with M V Kavaratti said that internal issues are the reason behind the maintenance failure of the ship bound for Lakshadweep. Availability of spare parts has also been cited as a problem. Though spare parts worth lakhs of rupees were purchased recently, it was not utilised, the employees alleged.
The officials said that they are trying their best to repair the AC, so that they could set sail as soon as possible.