Beypore: Around 800 Lakshadweep residents have been left stranded in Kozhikode town as the number of passenger ships to the archipelago has been reduced.
The Lakshadweep residents, who had come to north Kerala for various purposes such as medical treatment, education and business, have not been able to return home for the last one month.
With the onset of monsoon, the services of the passenger ships from Beypore have been suspended. But tickets are being issued for the services from Kochi.
Of the 164 people, who turned up at the Lakshadweep port assistant director office counter on Sunday, only 20 got tickets for the Arabian Sea ship heading to Androth Island on June 14.
Uncertainty looms over the journey to other islands as well. Due to the shortage of transport facilities, several people are staying at lodges in Beypore and in the town. Most of them are waiting to return home after undergoing treatment at various hospitals. Those staying at the lodges for days at a stretch are incurring financial liabilities.
Only two ships from Kochi
Seven ships operated services to Lakshadweep from Kochi and Beypore. However, this was cut down to two, leading to the crisis. Now, only the ships MV Corals and MV Arabian Sea are operating services.
MV Minicoy and MV Amindivi, that earlier operated services from Beypore port, have been decommissioned. With that, the Lakshadweep passengers in north Kerala can only travel via Kochi.
Several passengers have also been stranded in Kochi. Due to the rush, several people have not been able to buy the tickets.
Twenty per cent of the total passenger tickets for the MV Corals ship and 10 per cent for the MV Arabian Sea ship are allotted from Beypore. There are 650 seats in the 2 ships currently conducting services. However, the number of travellers is much higher.
The passengers relied on the high-speed vessels after ship services from Beypore were stopped. Due to monsoon regulations, ship services from Beypore have been suspended till September 15. Also, the 700-seater MV Kavaratti has been docked for repair works after a fire broke out on the ship.
The MV Lagoons and MV Lakshadweep Sea are also not conducting services due to the annual maintenance works.
So in effect, there are only two ships for the passengers from the 10 inhabited islands who need to travel to the mainland for various purposes such as work.
There has been a widespread outcry as the island administration has not started more services, despite the severe travel hassles.