PANJIM: The Ports Administration has allayed apprehensions that the Sagarmala project will allow the backdoor entry of cargo operations as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant reviewed projects to be under taken by the Centre’s Sagarmala Program on Monday. Ports officials said the project, through which dilapidated ferry wharfs would be renovated, will boost hinterland tourism and reduce vehicular traffic congestion on the roads.
“As many as 22 ferry ramps are in a dilapidated condition. We have proposed to the Centre to upgrade nine jetties in the first phase. Being a tourist State, these changes will bring in more tourists to experience Goa’s traditional ferryboat ride. It will also boost hinterland tourism as many jetties are located in the interiors,” Ports Minister Jayesh Salgaonkar, who was present during the power point presentation by the ports officials, told Herald.
He added that the renovation will encourage people to use ferry service. “It will
reduce traffic chaos on the roads,” he added, emphasising that the project will not compromise on environment related matters. As per the River and Navigation Department, additional ferryboats are being added to the existing fleet.
The minister also asserted that the Sagarmala project will in no way allow cargo vessels’ operations. Before commencing the project, subject to approval from the Centre in addition to permissions from all the concerned authorities, Salgaonkar said they will meet stakeholders, including general public, to create awareness about the works.
“Some groups, individuals, etc are apprehensive that the ramps will facilitate cargo transportation. It is absolutely incorrect. These ramps will continue to operate ferryboat service. We are also taking into consideration the environmental aspect,” he said, adding that the project will create employment opportunities for the locals as small terminal buildings at the wharfs will house food stalls, juice centres, etc.
“We will soon announce dates for public consultation wherein people can put forth their views, apprehensions and our experts will respond to those. We will take everyone into confidence for this project,” he further said.