4-day navy celebrations sink ferry owners' dreams

The Navy puts up a grand show annually to commemorate India's victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan on December 3-4. However this year the Navy wants to indulge in the celebrations for four days, instead of two (Dec 1-4).

The Navy has already written to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) asking to it keep the port around the Gateway of India shut for the commercial boats. However, the move has not gone down well with ferryboat owners, who have decided to protest against it.

Disrupting business: Boat owners complain that the Navy's celebratory
display near the Gateway of India spells financial losses for them, as the
port remains closed for business. Representation Pics

'A great loss'
According to the boat owners, the closures of the port during celebrations near the Gateway of India leads to irreplaceable financial loss for those dependent on ferries for their livelihood.

And with the navy deciding to extend its celebrations by a couple of days, the losses will also double up for the ferry owners.

Boat owners speak
Requesting anonymity, a ferryboat owner said, "We have been taken for granted. Hence we receive these sudden notices asking us to shut our business. With peak season on, this closure is going to break our back.
However, we have no choice but to abide by the notice issued by the MbPT of keeping business shut during celebrations."

The owner further alleged that the MbPT has planned to shut down the entire harbour from Dec 16 to Dec 21 for an international boat show. "Though we have been verbally informed, we are yet to receive an official letter about the boat show."

Despite repeated attempts, MPT Chairperson, Shrikant Singh remained unavailable for comment.

Navy Day
Every year, the Indian Navy commemorates India's victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan on December 4, for which the navy celebrates for two days starting Dec 3.

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