VIJAYAWADA: Bhavani Island has registered a loss of more than Rs 22 crore since September 11 as its boating facilities have been suspended. Speaking to TNIE, manager of the island’s hotel Harinath said, “We have incurred huge losses as the 29 hotel rooms have remain unbooked over the past eight weeks. Also, non-usage of the island’s recreational facilities such as games, adventure sports and food stalls have cost us nearly Rs 8 to Rs 10 crore.”
“Before the island was shut down, we registered a footfall of 800 to 1000 tourists every day. However, the number came down to 250 when it was partly reopened at the end of September for five days. Presently, the island wears a deserted look with absolutely no activity,” he added. As per the decision taken during the meeting held by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday, boating activities throughout the State will restart only after the establishment of eight boating control rooms.
“The construction will take more than three months. Boating and water sports will be allowed only after the island’s facilities are inspected by the boat inspectors. Once the checks are completed, reports will be sent to the boat owners who will have to carry out repairs as per official instructions. However, this is a time-consuming process and may prove a bane for us,” said the island’s adventure sports in-charge Sudarshan.
Lack of work at the tourist spot has forced daily wage labourers employed there to look for new jobs. “For how many days shall we wait? We have to fulfil the needs of our families. I have started washing utensils at a restaurant in the city. Once the island is reopened, we will return,” said Lakshmi Amma, a daily wage labourer. The pause on boating has not only affected revenue generation but also interrupted the ongoing post-flood restoration works at the island.
“We had to stop work as no one is allowed to go to the island. We took permission from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel for one day and managed to bring back the birds. We are now taking care of them at Berm Park. We do not know how we will bring the situation back to normalcy as we had to leave behind most of our equipments, which have probably rusted due to the dirty floodwater,” said the island’s general manager M Lalitha.
Meanwhile, tourists across the State seem dejected as their favourite picnic spot seems to be unavailable for vana bhojanam during the ongoing Karthika masam. “Earlier, people used to go to faraway places in search of wildlife and lush greenery. However, since the development of the island, it became the people’s go-to spot during Karthika Masam and we earned good revenue. Now, we are losing out on a lot at this point of the year,” Lalitha concluded.