Kerala water transport department plies 70 seat boat for a single student to write exam

South India

The Kerala state water transport department (SWTD) is winning praise from people across the country for running a 70-seat boat for nearly 30 km to take one student to her school for writing examination.

The boat made the round trip from MN Block in Alappuzha district to Kanjiram in Kottayam district for two days for Sandra Babu to write her Plus One exams just for Rs.8 per trip, according to a Times of India report.

Passenger boats in the Kuttanad area were suspended ever since the lockdown began. It did not affect Sandra since the school also remained closed. However, when fresh dates for the deferred HSC exams were announced by the Kerala government, Sandra, whose parents are daily wage workers, was at first sure she would miss them.

“I thought I would miss the examinations as I didn’t have any means to reach my school. But then, I contacted the SWTD office and informed them of my plight. They understood my situation and promised to send a boat. I am really proud of SWTD and I don’t know how to share my happiness,” Sandra was quoted by TOI as saying.

On both days of the examination, the boat picked up 17-year-old Sandra from a jetty close to her home at sharp 11.30am and plied all the way to Kanjiram, dropping her at the jetty in front of SNDP Higher Secondary School at around 12 noon. The boat waited for her till she finished her exam and then dropped her back around 4pm.

Despite the lone passenger, the boat had its full complement of crew – the driver, a srank (navigator), a boat master and two lascars (for assisting the master in mooring).

Shaji V Nair, SWTD’s director, said the officials didn’t think twice when Sandra sought their help. “My daughter too is a Plus One student. The government as well as our minister gave their full support for operating the service. We sent our boat with five crew members, only for her to ferry her from her home to the school and back,” he said.

Santhosh Kumar K A, Alappuzha unit officer of the department, said hiring a country boat fitted with a boat engine would have costed at least Rs 4,000 for a single trip. Sandra was charged only Rs 18 for the single day’s journey, with a oneway ticket costing Rs 9.

Image Credit: Malayala Manorama


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