Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Nov 5:
Four luxury boats worth nearly Rs 7 crores have been lying unused for the last two years in the world famous Bhitarkanika wetland in Kendrapara district of Odisha.
The four luxury catamaran boats that have cost the state exchequer around Rs 7 crores were bought without any technical and environmental panel clearance. They are unable to run in the narrow river and creeks of Odisha’s Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.
The boats are lying tied up in the riverside and they have been bought only to gobble up public funds, reports allege.
Around 2 years ago, under the World Bank, Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme (ICZAMP), four luxury fibre boats, each 18 feet long and 6 feet wide with a double engine, had been bought.
These 4 boats had been bought for Rs 5, 51,37120 , while the three years Annual Maintenance to the organisation costing Rs 47,38,145, and an entry tax and CST of Rs 6,98,711 and yearly insurance of Rs 3,96,880 had been paid, that is Rs 6,71,8856 was spent in total for buying four fibre luxury boats in June 2014 .
Each boat has a single deck, two cabins, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. The boat can accommodate 20 passengers and 4 cabin crew; the boats also have in built security arrangements for the passengers.
In Mahanadi, Baitarani, Bitarkanika and Brahnami rivers the boats can run at 38 horsepower, with two engines and the fuel tank can keep the boat running for 6 hours.
According to state DFO official information the boat was run only once. The department is mulling handing over the running of the boats to a private party, but no decision has been reached yet.
Meanwhile, these costly boats have turned into showpieces for tourists.