Odisha govt provides financial aid to Fani-hit tourist boat owners

Puri: Odisha government today disbursed financial assistance of Rs 8.33 crore to as many as 789 tourist boat owners, who lost their livelihoods after their boats were completely damaged in cyclone ‘Fani’ on May 3.

Of the total amount, Rs 4,26,40,000 was provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund whereas the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) gave 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 (SBI) as Mudra loan on basis of a rquest made 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.

Development Commissioner Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, 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.

Secretary of Tourism Department, Vishal Dev 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 Puri 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.

Among others, Puri Collector Balwant Singh, SBI Chief General Manager Praveena Kala, and Puri SP Umashankar Das were present during the occasion.

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