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Cruise flagged off by Modi stuck? IWAI says no

New Delhi: The flagship Ganga Vilas cruise, which was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, reached Patna as per schedule and is not stuck in Chhapra, stated Inland Waterways Authority of India on Monday.

Chairman, IWAI, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya said the vessel, MV Ganga Vilas, will continue its onwards journey as per schedule.

“The Ganga Vilas reached Patna as per schedule. There is absolutely no truth in the news that the vessel is stuck in Chhapra. The vessel will continue its onwards journey as per schedule” IWAI said in a tweet quoting Bandopadhyaya.

Chhapra’s CO Satendra Singh said local journalists earlier misquoted him.

“Local journalists have misquoted me, I just said SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) boats were at the spot as a precautionary move. There is no obstacle of any kind,” Singh told ANI.

He said that the SDRF boats were provided “by the district authorities” as a routine precautionary measure.

The operators of the vessel also said that it is not stuck and technically can’t go to the shore.

“(Where) river is not deep, you have to use shallow boats to get off and on to see the site. The main ship stays in the main channel where there is water. This is what happened here. It is the norm. This is the normal thing,” Raj Singh, chairman, Exotic Heritage Group, said.

The operators also said the ship with its clients is running as per schedule and is anchored in Patna and will sail after sightseeing.

They said that technically the small boats are required to take the guests to the shore.

“We have the same arrangement for the Sundarbans and rest of West Bengal too. This has been the plan all along. Yes, if the ship comes to the shore it may get stuck and hence to avoid the situation we use local boats which also provides some income locally,” said the operators.

Earlier in the day, it was reported that Ganga Vilas got stuck on the third day of its 51-day journey in Bihar’s Chhapra due to shallow water in the Ganga.

The cruise which was scheduled to dock at the shore for the tourists to visit Chirand, an archaeological site, got stuck because of water deficiency in the Ganges near the Doriganj area of the district.

Chirand Saran, situated 11 km southeast of Chhapra near Doriganj Bazar, is the most important archaeological site of the district.

Stupanuma fillings built on the banks of the Ghaghra river are seen to be associated with Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences.

However, owing to the shallow water at the shore, it was difficult to bring the cruise to the shore, officials said.

Upon receipt of the information, the SDRF team reached the spot to rescue the tourists through a small boat so that they do not face difficulties in reaching Chirand Saran.

Chhapra’s CO Satendra Singh who is a part of the arrangement-making team said that adequate arrangements have been made for the tourists in Chirand.

“SDRF team is stationed at the ghat so that immediate action can be taken on any untoward situation. Due to less water, there is a problem in bringing the cruise to the shore. Therefore, efforts are being made to bring tourists through small boats,” he said.

Ganga Vilas cruise also has special features. Its speed is up to 12 km per hour upstream and 20 km downstream.

The cruise has an RO system for drinking water, along with a sewage treatment plant.

The cruise has all the necessary facilities for the convenience of the people and their needs.

Its fare in India is Rs 25,000 a day, while in Bangladesh the fare is Rs 50,000 a day.

PM Modi had flagged off the cruise from Varanasi on January 13.

The luxury triple-deck cruise will travel on the world’s longest waterway from Varanasi to Dibrugarh in Assam.

The cruise has a capacity of 80 passengers with 18 suits.

This cruise will go on an adventurous journey for 51 days and pass through Bangladesh for 15 days.

Following this, it will go to Dibrugarh through the Brahmaputra river in Assam.

The luxury cruise will cover a distance of more than 3,200 km and pass through 5 states in India and Bangladesh.

This cruise will pass through a total of 27 river systems of UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Assam.

The cruise will pass through three major rivers Ganga, Meghna, and Brahmaputra.

The cruise will enter the Bhagirathi, Hooghly, Bidyavati, Malata, and Sundarbans river systems in Bengal.

In Bangladesh, it will pass through Meghna, Padma, and Jamuna in Bangladesh and then enter the Brahmaputra in Assam.

According to an official statement, the 51 days cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sights, National Parks, river Ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.