PANAJI: Aam Aadmi Party leaders met with the Director of the River Navigation Department on Tuesday and demanded to withdraw the notification increasing fare for ferryboats operating on 18 routes within the state.
AAP leaders Valmiki Naik, Rajesh Kalangutkar, Upendra Gaonkar, Sunil Signapurkar, Sarfaraz Ankalgi and others submitted a memorandum urging the Director to reconsider the fare hike, taking into account the financial burden it will impose on commuters, especially those residing on various river islands for whom this is the only mode of crossing the river.
Criticising the failure of the Solar Ferry, AAP leader Rajesh Kalangutkar said new initiatives such as Solar ferryboat or RoRo ferryboat, while welcome, need to be properly studied before committing crores of taxpayers money.
Kalangutkar emphasized the concerns raised by the islanders such as Chorao and Divar who heavily rely on ferryboats for river crossings, and are already burdened by long wait times at the jetties on both banks of the river. Kalangutkar chided the Govt for neither adding more and better ferryboats, nor building bridges to alleviate the problems faced by the commuters.
AAP leader Valmiki Naik criticized the River Navigation Minister’s justification for the fare hike as a means to increase revenue. Naik expressed his discontent with the BJP Govt’s excessive spending on events, such as the 6-crore expenditure on the BJP Govt swearing-in ceremony in 2022 lasting just 18 minutes, which could have been allocated for the purchase of at least six ferryboats which would have served the public for at least 18 years.
Naik lamented that the BJP Govt was more concerned about the welfare of casinos than the plight of common citizens relying on ferryboat services. He highlighted the Goa Govt stance on opposing GST hikes for casinos while thinking nothing of burdening the common man with more expenses.
Naik criticised the so-called schemes of the BJP Govt, pointing out that for every Rs. 5 that the Govt gives through a scheme, it increases the prices of essentials and takes away Rs. 50 from the common man. Naik warned that the day is not too far that BJP will start adding tolls to the roads and bridges.
Upendra Gaonkar pointed out the mismanagement of the Solar Ferryboat, which, despite a 4-crore investment, didn’t operate even for two months. He urged the government to focus on essential services and stop wasting money on unnecessary events, advertising and self-promotion.