A protest and a signature campaign were organised near the Madh Jetty bus stop Sunday against the demand put forth by the Vesawa Machimaar Sarvodaya Society Limited for a 100 per cent hike in the Madh-Versova ferry boat fare.
The society has requested the government to increase the fare for non-residents from Rs 3 to Rs 5 and for residents from Rs 2 to Rs 4. “The government authority has asked people to present their objections, regarding the hike, till June 7. Hence, a signature campaign was launched. At least 1,000 people gave their signatures on Day 1 of the campaign,” said Vikram Kapoor, Block 29 president from the Indian National Congress.
Kapoor said there had been a provision for construction of a bridge to connect Madh and Versova, thereby reducing the 12-km journey to only a 3-km one.
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The Varsova villagers, however, had opposed the construction of the bridge as it would lead to a loss of their livelihood. It is estimated that at least 50,000 people use the jetty on a daily basis.
Raju Koli, a local resident, said that the fares should be increased as Customs and other authorities levy taxes, but 100 per cent increment in fares was unacceptable.
Kapoor said, “The jetties come under the co-operative society which are for no-profit-no-loss, but hike in the fare will inconvenience a lot of people.” He alleged that good facilities weren’t provided by the boats and there was no port on the other side, which made the situation dangerous during high tides.
Azhar Khan (28), a local resident, said, “During rainfall, the boat service is stopped for a few hours. Locals also face a lot of problems during high tides. The fare should not be increased because majority of the people living in Madh are completely dependent on it.”
The signature campaign will be held over three days, until June 7. However, some have demanded an extension as many people aren’t aware of it yet.