Odisha Govt Provides Financial Aid To Fani-Hit Tourist Boat Owners

Puri: The Odisha government has provided financial assistance of Rs 8.33 crore to 789 tourist boat owners, who lost their livelihood as their boats were completely damaged in Cyclone Fani on May 3 this year.

The affected boat owners belonging to nine boat associations received the amount during a programme called ‘Financial assistance to Fani-affected boat owners’ held at Satapada arranged by the Puri district administration on Sunday.

Of the total amount, Rs 4,26,40,000 was provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) and another Rs 1.92 crore from  the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) CSR funds. The remaining amount was provided by the State Bank of India (SBI) as Mudra loan on the request of the state government.

Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, development commissioner, who attended the programme as chief guest said that the boat owners should repair and redevelop their boats with better engines and facilities to attract more tourists in the coming days.

“There is no scheme to provide financial assistance to tourist boats affected in natural disasters like cyclone, but the state government has decided to help the boat owners who are equally affected like any other community in the cyclone,” said Mahapatra.

Secretary, Tourism, Vishal Dev, urged the boat owners to contribute to enhance the image of Puri as a global tourist destination.

“A country like Thailand receives 30 per cent revenue from the tourism industry, while Odisha gets only 10 per cent. We should try to provide better services to tourists so that more and more people from different parts of the world come to visit places like Puri again and again,” Dev added.

The district administration, after getting requests from the affected tourist boat owners to provide them with financial assistance, had contacted and sent a proposal to the Tourism Department.

“With the amount received today, the boat owners should quickly repair and redevelop their damaged boats in order to earn their livelihood and live with dignity,” said Puri collector Balwant Singh. He urged the boat owners to fix their boats within the next two months.

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