If things go according to plan, you may soon be able to take a ferry to Belapur, Navi Mumbai from Gateway of India. In a meeting that was held between ferry owners and Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) on Wednesday, the board put forward the idea of starting ferry services to Belapur and areas beyond Alibaug.
The board has also asked the boat owners to provide lifejackets for individual passengers. However, the two ideas put forward have received a lukewarm response from boat owners.
A ferry owner, who was present at a meeting, said on condition of anonymity, “We have agreed to start the service on a trial basis. However, there is no proper infrastructure. Also, there are very few people who use boats for travel nowadays. Hence, starting services to Belapur is just not a great idea. Very few will opt these services, and the distance will be too long.”
The owner added that the time and cost required to start these services are not yet known. “We have all safety equipments in place and a few lifejackets are already placed in our boat. Other safety equipment is also available. It is just impossible to have lifejackets for all passengers. Let the government come up with a government resolution, we will challenge it in the court.”
Another boat owner added that the infrastructure at the Gateway of India jetty is poor. “Time and again, there have been talks of giving a facelift to the Gateway jetty, but nothing has been done for years. Before starting anything new, we need to make our infrastructure proper.”
MiD DAY had reported last year that MMB had floated tenders for constructing jetties at the Gateway of India, in response to passengers complaining that the jetties were unsafe. However, nothing has been done till date.
Spokesperson of Elephanta Jal-Vahatuk Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit, Iqbal Mukkadam confirmed that the above proposals have been made, but he refused to comment further, stating that it is still under discussion.
S S Shinde, CEO of MMB said, “We will be getting 25 new catamarans. We are introducing a few new destinations such as Nerul and Dharamtar. We are seeking help of ferry owners.
This will help us cut down our travel time. From Gateway of India we will reach Nerul in one hour, rather than reaching in three hours by road. We will also have direct connectivity from Madgaon, Sawantwadi and the entire Konkan belt to Mumbai through these speedboats. We have also sought the help of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation for the same. Also, lifejackets will be mandatory on all boats.”
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