Maharashtragovernment has issued tenders seeking application from private parties to startaffordable ship services connecting Mumbai with Goa, which was discontinuedmore than two decades ago when late PM Rajiv Gandhi diverted the vessels forsailing of Indian peace troops in Sri Lanka.
The efforts are being revivedafter three earlier such attempts over span of forty years failed, despite theservices being very popular among the travellers.
"We havereceived interest from about 3-4 private operators for the project." Said ParaagJain Nainuttia, CEO of Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), a government bodyresponsible for regulating marine infrastructure in the state.
The twovessels- Konkan Sevak and Konkan Shakti mainly were used to ferry betweencommercial capital Mumbai and laid back region of Goa since 1970s which wererun by government owned Mugal Lines Ltd.
MV Akbar, a vessel which was being used for transporting Haj pilgrims and wasused for a brief while on Mumbai-Goa route is currently used for plyingtourists in Andaman. After that Damania shipping ltd started similar hovercraft service for few months , but had toshut down soon. At present a cruise liner runs services albeit at premium of around Rs15,000 per head.
The MMBofficials said that the vessel to be used for the project would have thecapacity to carry over 500 passengers and will be priced similar to the traintickets, taking around 8-9 hours to complete the journey.
"The new ship servicewill also be high on entertainment with folk dances, karakoing, indoor games,etc" added Nainuttia.
As per the plans, the ship will have halt at prominentstops like Ganpatipule, Malvan, Vengurla , Tarkarli , etc where the passengers can have refreshments andthen continue their journey further.
The maritimeboard officials closely involved with the project said that they studied aboutthe failures of earlier ventures and found that the reason for its failure wasbecause the ships used were light in weight (capacity of around 150passengers) and therefore would roll andpitch (define) resulting in feeling of nausea in many passengers, apart fromseveral other factors.
"The absenceof Konkan railways in those days, just two Indian Airlines flight withunaffordable airfares and poor road transport connectivity made the sea journeyhighly popular" said Faiz Dadarkar,44, whose late father was a GM with MugalLines Shipping Ltd .
The old timers and people who travelled earlier said thatthe ship service would start around 6 pm from Ferry Warf in South Mumbai andreach Panjim in Goa by next morning coveringpicturesque Konkan coast along the way.
MaryknollDrego, 53, an assistant manager with Future Group who travelled by Mumbai-Goa boat services several times as ateen said, " It used to a very enjoyable journey with the steamer coming fromeach direction crossing each other somewhere in Ratnagiri midway" .