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Lakshadweep Government ignores Beypore and starts more ship services to Mangaluru

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KOZHIKODE : Ties between Beypore Port and Lakshadweep appear to be eroding as the island government has resumed passenger ship services to Mangaluru.

Citing inadequate infrastructural facilities at Beypore port, the Lakshadweep government has decided not to restore shipping services from the port. Earlier, there was a discreet attempt by the Lakshadweep government to divert cargo traffic from Beypore and Kochi ports to Mangaluru port, a decision that faced opposition from Kerala.

Trade associations in Kozhikode allege that the neglect of Beypore port stems from the vested interests of the Lakshadweep government. “Beypore was preferred by many residents of the islands due to its proximity and family ties with Malabar. Residents of Lakshadweep share strong cultural ties with Kozhikode and Malappuram. Until the pandemic, high-speed ships such as Valiyapani, Cheriyapani and Parali were used for passenger services between Beypore and Lakshadweep. We urged the Lakshadweep port administration to resume ship services, but the port director rejected the demand citing insufficient draft at Beypore port,” said Sirajudheen Ellathodi, secretary of Calicut Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Even the smallest all-weather passenger ships of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep Administration – MV Arabian Sea and MV Lakshadweep Sea – require a minimum draft of 3.5 metres. The current available depth at the Beypore quay is 3.4 meters. Therefore, the available depth at the Beypore wharf is not sufficient for the safe operation of all-weather passenger ships owned and operated by the Lakshadweep administration,” R Giri Shankar, director of Lakshadweep ports department, said in a letter to the Calicut Chamber of Commerce. The letter also mentions the disapproval of the competent authorities to restart the service.

Despite assurances from the Beypore port official to the Lakshadweep government via email that the new wharf has a depth of 3.5 metres, the island government has not yet responded. Residents of Lakshadweep have also protested against the government’s decision. “The majority of Dweep residents depend on Kerala, especially Kozhikode, for healthcare and education. Since the government has stopped ship services to Beypore, we have been forced to travel to Kochi and now Mangaluru for transportation facilities. What is the point of going to Mangaluru if we want to travel to Kozhikode? We are facing significant challenges under the Lakshadweep government led by Praful K Patel,” said Dr SM Althaf, a resident of Lakshadweep.

Meanwhile, the Lakshadweep government on Thursday restarted the shipping service connecting Kadmat and Kilthan Islands in Lakshadweep to the old port of Mangaluru. The ticket price has been fixed at Rs 650 for a single journey.

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