Chandbali: High boat fares, overloading and unsafe journey are major irritants for people using boats at various ghats here in Bhadrak district.
Chandbali is an area crisscrossed by rivers. People have no other way but to depend on ferries for commuting.
In the wake of some boat mishaps, the government has framed guidelines to ensure safe boat journey. Use of life jackets for passengers has been made mandatory. But the guidelines have been literally tossed into water even though the government has been generating lakhs of revenue by leasing out various ghats in Chandbali.
Locals alleged that the management of boat operations and revenue collection are not paid due attention, while people have to travel in an unsafe way.
Habali in Mantei River is a busy ghat in the district. Since the day Dhamra port was commissioned, this ghat has become crowded. Boat operations and trips have gone up by several notches.
Apart from people, bicycles, motorcycles, and commodities are transported on boats on a daily basis.
For quite some time, leasing of this ghat has been caught in a row. Dates for its auction have been announced but later cancelled due to alleged political intervention.
Moreover, the locals alleged that the ghat leaseholders have been charging exorbitant fares from the passengers, who feel exploited.
They lamented that the government has no proper mechanism to curb such high fares.
Worse, the overloading of boats is common. Carrying loads beyond the boat capacity puts passengers at risk. The ghat also lacks proper facilities and basic amenities for boat passengers who demand lighting and rest shed facilities.