Risky boat rides only option for Lal Pahad villagers

Report by: 
M SURESH KUMAR
Port Blair
11 Sep 2017

Hopes of development and good governance make 35-year-old Manoj Lakra of Lal Pahad village in South Andaman cast his vote in every election. Elections come and go but the situation in this remote region connected by sea has remained unchanged, all these years, with no signs of development. For several families settled in Lal Pahad, life is a daily ordeal travelling by engine dinghies, wading through waist-deep waters infested with crocodiles to reach Guptapara for work and other requirements.
According to reports, villagers of Lal Pahad are forced to avail private boat services to travel to Guptapara in the absence of government means. The journey normally consumes one hour for a one-way trip which at times get delayed for several hours in the absence of adequate number of travellers. For lack of a passenger jetty at Guptapara, the boat operator disembarks passengers in waist-deep water meters away from the shore.
“Families settled in Lal Pahad have been living an isolated life for the past many years. Connected by sea route, reaching Guptapara for work and other purposes is a daily challenge for the residents here. Other than private boats, there is no transportation means and villagers have to brave the sea  everyday. Private boat operators have made huge profits taking advantage of the situation over the years. In the event of shortage of passengers, they delay the trip to Guptapara which adversely affects our vocations. There exists a Fish Landing Centre for fishermen at Guptapara, but no jetty for other commuters. The administration should take note of the situation and introduce government ferry services in the sector for the benefit of the remote population. Construction of a jetty or HDPE berthing facility will also bring huge respite for the people here,” said some Lal Pahad residents.