|The Vypeen-Fort Kochi boat service may be launched by the end of the week as the civic authorities have come under pressure from various quarters to introduce the service.|
The civic body is in the process of finalising a legal agreement with the Kerala Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation for operating the service. Once the agreement is inked, the service will be launched. “The administration hopes to operate the boat this week itself,” said Mayor Soumini Jain.
She denied reports that existing the jankar service between Vypeen and Fort Kochi would be withdrawn from Monday to pave the way for the construction of the mooring facility for the roll-on roll-off service.
Incidentally, a senior official of the civic body had reportedly served a notice to the agency that was operating the jhankar service to end operations.
The decision would have affected passengers in the sector as the civic body had not made arrangements for an alternative travel facility for them.
The Cochin Port Trust had also written to the civic body to facilitate the construction of the mooring facility. The service needs to be suspended for some time for construction work.
Referring to the developments, Ms. Jain said she had personally taken up the issue with the Port Trust and had asked the jhankar operating agency to continue its service until further orders. “The jankar service can be withdrawn only after launching the boat service as decided by the council,” she said.
Responding to the developments, works standing committee chairman P.M. Harris said some groups with vested interests were deliberately creating confusion regarding the jhankar and boat services.
“Since the construction of the mooring facility doesn’t involve any additional expenditure for the civic body, the work should start without any delay. Also, the civic body should launch the boat service,” he said.
K.J. Antony, leader of the CPI (M) in the council, held the civic administration responsible for what he termed as the inept handling of the situation. The Revenue Officer of the Kochi Corporation had served a notice for the termination of jhankar service though the Mayor denied the developments. No senior official would serve such a notice without the knowledge and consent of the civic administration, he said.
“If the official has served the notice without the consent of the Mayor, action should be taken against the official,” he added.
Mr. Antony said the construction of the mooring facility should be permitted during the night hours without causing any inconvenience to passengers.