Ship operator standing in front of Chilika, 400 passengers blocked
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ODISHA - April 17, 2022

Ship operator standing in front of Chilika, 400 passengers blocked

BERHAMPOUR: More than 400 passengers on more than 20 boats were stranded on Lake Chilika for more than 45 minutes after a dispute between ship operators Satapada and Janhikuda on Saturday. They reached the coast only after the intervention of local authorities.

Sources said ship operators Satapada and Janhikuda had partnered up to return passengers. Troubles erupted again on Saturday after several Janhikuda ships carried passengers to Satapada and then attempted to carry returning passengers, at odds with the ship’s operator Satapada.

Although the boat returned from Janhikuda without passengers, the operators seemed to be waiting to face their opponent. Around 17:00, when more than 20 Satapada boats were sailing to Janhikuda, the boat operators there did not allow the boats to reach the pier.

When the information about the stranded passengers spread, the Krusnaprassad administration and the police reached the port and settled the matter amicably. The two groups only agreed to release the passengers and return to their respective departure points without them.

Since the Janhikuda-Satapada waterway crossing Chilika is the only time-saving and easily accessible route from the southern blocks of Odisha and Krushnaprasad to Puri, hundreds of travelers to the pilgrimage city prefer this route to avoid the 200km journey.

Ironically, despite frequent clashes, including accidents in Chile, overcrowded ships, violating safety standards, are a common sight on the lake. One of the stranded passengers, Joti Prasad Chhotrei, a senior lawyer, said: “Dangerous boat journeys often put people’s lives at risk. This is especially true for ship services from Chilika to Puri, where the ship exceeds the permissible capacity and puts the lives of passengers at risk.

Krushnaprasad IIC Dillip Kumar Swain said the boats had reached shore and the passengers disembarked after the dispute was resolved. To participate in the ongoing Krushnaprasad camp, locals in the surrounding area prefer the boat, which has been sailing for more than 12 hours a day for the past few days, he said. Last month, two ships on Lake Chilika were blocked twice due to obstacles and more than 60 passengers had a painful experience.

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