Puri: The Odisha government today provided financial assistance of Rs 8.33 crore to as many as 789 tourist boat owners, who lost their livelihoods as their boats were completely damaged in cyclone ‘FANI’ that hit the coastal district on May 3 leaving a trail of destruction.
Of the total amount, Rs 4, 26, 40, 000 was provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) given Rs 1.92 crore from its CSR funds to the affected boat owners.
The rest of the amount was provided by the State Bank of India as Mudra loan upon request by the State government.
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.
Shri Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, IAS, Development Commissioner, Government of Odisha, who attended the programme as Chief Guest said the boat owners should repair and redevelop their boats with better engines and facilities in order to attract more tourists in the coming days.
“There is no such 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.
Similarly, Shri Vishal Dev, IAS, Secretary, Tourism Department, Government of Odisha, urged the boat owners to contribute to enhance the image of Puri as a global tourist destination.
“A country like Thailand where 30 per cent revenue comes from tourism industry but in Odisha, it’s 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 will 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 financial assistance, had contacted and sent a proposal to the Tourism Department to do something for the boat owners.
“With the amount received today, the boat owners should quickly repair and redevelop their damaged boats in order to earn their livelihoods and live with dignity,” said Shri Balwant Singh, IAS, Collector-cum-District Magistrate, Puri.
“I hope and expect all the boat owners should repair their boats within the next two months,” the Collector said.
Among others who were present are Smt. Praveena Kala, Chief General Manager, SBI, Bhubaneswar Circle, Shri S.K. Nanda, IAS, Director (Independnt), HUDCO and Shri Umashankar Das, IPS, Superintendent of Police, Puri.
Bhabatarana Sahu, Sub-Collector of Puri, gave vote of thanks.