Only two of seven ships sailing to Lakshadweep, many islanders stranded for months in Kochi

Waiting for ticket, many have been staying in rented houses and lodges for nearly 2 months

Published: 27th September 2022 06:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th September 2022 06:19 AM   |  A+A-

Lakshadweep residents throng the ticket counter at Port office, Willingdon island, Kochi | Express

Express News Service

KOCHI: They have been staying in rented houses and lodges for nearly two months waiting for a ticket to their homeland. With resources drying fast, they have been knocking at the doors of the Lakshadweep administrative officer in Kochi for mercy. There are ailing patients, elderly, women and children among them. They throng the administrative office every day and stand in long queues for tickets and return disappointed by evening. The Lakshadweep transportation crisis has left hundreds from the archipelago stranded in Kochi.

The residents of Lakshadweep depend on the mainland for nearly everything including healthcare, education and essentials. The Lakshadweep administration had seven ships operating between the islands and the mainland of which five have gone for docking and maintenance work and only two ships are left which cannot serve even 50 per cent of the demand. People who arrived in Kochi for treatment and for admission of their wards in educational institutions have been waiting to board ships to their motherland for nearly two months.

M V Kavarathi, the biggest ship operated by Lakshadweep administration has been sent for maintenance after the ship caught fire midsea in December 2021. The maintenance of the ship with a carrying capacity of 700 passengers has been hindered due to delay in procuring original equipment from Denmark. Two ships M V Lagoon with a capacity of 350 passengers and M V Arabian Sea with a capacity of 250 passengers are currently operating. Two ships MV Aminidivi and MV Minicoy have been sent for auction. M V Corals with a capacity of 400 passengers and M V Lakshadweep Sea which can carry 250 passengers are currently under maintenance.

“The crisis started after M V Kavaratti went for maintenance following the fire accident. Inter-island traffic in Lakshadweep has also been affected due to non-availability of high-speed craft. There is one Air Indian flight that operates between Kochi and Lakshadweep daily. But the flight can carry only 72 passengers but it is not affordable to the common man,” said Lakshadweep MP P P Mohammed Faizal.
“I arrived in Kochi for treatment of my eye on August 24.

Though my check up was over in two days I couldn’t get a ticket to Lakshadweep and have been staying at a relative’s house in city. Last day we submitted a memorandum to Lakshadweep deputy director after which 100 seats were allocated. We have sent the ailing elderly and women using those  tickets. On Monday around 300 passengers visited the administrative office and demanded tickets. People are frustrated. Many are living in rented houses and lodges. Our resources have dried up and we are struggling to survive,” said A Anwar Sadath, a resident of Agathi.

“Thousands who arrived in Kochi for medical treatment, admission to educational institutions, and various other family needs, are stranded in Kochi. The reason for the crisis is the non-availability of ships. Two ships with limited carrying capacity are plying between Lakshadweep and Kochi. We had five all-weather ships which have been docked. This crisis has been caused due to lack of planning. The people are put to untold misery,” said NCP Agatti unit vice-president Mysha S M.

“The administration is selling 70 per cent tickets through counters while only 30 percent is set aside for online booking. Everyday people are made to queue up for tickets. People living in rented houses and lodges are struggling to survive as they have to spent huge amount for food and accommodation,” said Thaha, a resident of Kavaratti.



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