- No more taxis to Dudhsagar
No more taxis to Dudhsagar
Motorcycle taxis have to pay various fees amounting to anywhere between Rs 8000 to 10,000 for 45 days making it not viable for them
Ponda: The world famous Dudhsagar Waterfall draws huge crowds throughout the year and local Jeep operators ferry the tourists to the waterfall for only eight months. During the monsoon the forest department imposed a ban considering the Dudhsagar river floods and to avoid risk to lives of tourists. During the monsoon the majestic Dudhsagar is in full flow which also attracts a large number of tourists.
Considering the unemployment problem after the mining ban, the locals had no other job opportunity other than Dudhsagar related activities. Last year as per the demands of unemployed locals and with permission of Forest Department around 450 youths earned their livelihood by ferrying tourists to Dudhsagar on their motorcycles and celebrated their annual Ganesh Festival as government introduced a unique scheme to ferry visitors to the Dudhsagar.
The charges for tourists of Rs 1000 for pillion ride at a time up and down the distance of about 25 km by permitting around total of 125 motorcycle trips per day which were benefitted almost 400 locals who used their private motorcycles to ferry the tourist to Dudhsagar. But this year the Government had introduced unaffordable conditions for operating motorcycles by asking the locals to register their motorcycles as Motorcycle Taxis with the RTO by depositing fees of around Rs 8000-10,000 for just 45 days which becomes a costly job as a result all 450 Motorcycle youth preferred not to operate their bikes and instead sit at home.
According to Collem Sarpanch Gangaram Lambore after lot of effort by local MLA, and Panchayat and submitting several memorandum to Chief Minister and Forest Department last year the motorcycles were allowed to operate for period of 40 to 45 days. Out of Rs 1000, Rs 200 used to go to forest department and other fees such as life jackets etc. After bearing all cost including petrol the local youth were hardly getting Rs 500 per day which would helped them to earn at least Rs 15000 to 18000 for 45 days giving them great relief to bear the cost of Ganesh Festival.
But sadly this year none of the youth are seen doing this self business as they say they cannot afford the conditions of the Government. This has meant hundreds of tourists visiting Dudhsagar returning disappointed.
According to Sameer Naik who took the benefit of riding their private motorcycles for ferrying tourists to Dudhsagar, he said last year they were paying just around Rs 200 fees to the Forest Department but this year the Government had placed the condition to register their Motorcycle as Taxis and more specifically the yellow black Taxis. He said it is just like motorcycle Taxi pilots in Goa. We have to register ourselves with the RTOs and pay their various registration fees which goes to around Rs 8000 to 10,000 and this too for just 45 days permit. This is not affordable by us. We are not earning much from this business. We prefer not to ferry the tourists to Dudhsagar and prefer to sit at home. Last year we were happy to celebrate Ganesh Festival due to earning through this business. But this year we are worried how to celebrate Ganesh Chathurti. Most of us are unemployed following the ban on mining. Hemanth Velip another motorcycle operator said “By registering our motorcycle as yellow black taxis and keeping them idle for rest of year is not beneficial to us. We appealed to the government to remove the unaffordable conditions”. They said if government wants to help them and provide employment then they should be allowed to do the business on lines similar to last year. Currently several youth are unemployed after mining ban and government should help them with job opportunities by promoting tourism activities at Dudhsagar. In absence of no facilities to visit Dudhsagar hundreds of tourists visiting Collem returns without visiting it. Local MLA Deepak Pauskar said after lot of efforts, the scheme was started this year in August but there is no response to this scheme this year.
Collem Range Forest Officer Paresh Parab said this year no Motorcycle Operators registered themselves with forest, for ferrying tourist to the waterfall. Forest dept can only allow interested youths when they reigster their motorcycles as Taxis with RTO.