Catamarans Coming Back Soon To Odisha’s Bhitarakanika In New Avatar
Rajnagar: Luxury cruise ride on Bhitarakanika waterways in Odisha’s Kendrapada district is soon going to be a reality as four Catamaran boats refurbished as luxury cruises are likely to start operations soon.
Funded by the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP), the cruises will be equipped with all the facilities for night stay at Bhitarakanika Wildlife Sanctuary. Each cruise can accommodate four people and the cost for four will be Rs 25,000 per night.
Four Catamarans boats were purchased by the Forest Department in 2014 for Rs 4 crore under ICZMP. But as the department did not have trained crew members to run the show smoothly, it outsourced it to Kerala-based Samudra Shipyards Private Limited, which operated the boats till 2018.
In 2021, the boats were handed over to the Tourism Department by the Forest Department. Following which, the state government decided to hand those to a private company for operation as cruises. The Tourism Department floated a tender and Delhi-based Heritage River Journeys Private Limited won the bid.
An agreement was signed with the private company in November 2021 and the boats were handed over for refurbishment as houseboats or cruises.
Two boats revamped as luxury cruises have arrived in Odisha while the other two are awaited. Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sudarshan Gopinath Yadav said that the four cruises will start services soon.
As per the agreement, Heritage River Journeys Pvt Ltd will give Rs 5.20 lakh annually to the Tourism Department.