Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan flagged off the Samudra bus service operated by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to transport women fish vendors in the State capital on Saturday.
Launched in collaboration with the Fisheries Department, the first-of-its-kind project got under way at the Connemara Market in Palayam.
Transport Minister Antony Raju, who presided over the function, said the endeavour would commence with three low-floor buses and would be expanded in proportion to the requirement of fish vendors at a later stage. In the initial phase, the 24-seater buses would ply between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. on a daily basis to transport fish vendors from various harbours to the capital city.
The buses have been customised to include various facilities such as roller platforms for easy loading and unloading of fish baskets and rear view camera.
While the trips would mostly commence from Vizhinjam currently, the routes and timings could change on the basis of fishing trends and the demands of the beneficiaries, Mr. Raju said.
He added that the buses would be operated and maintained by the KSRTC, while the Fisheries Department would pay an annual rent of ₹24 lakh for each bus.
Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian said the fish vendors would not be required to pay bus safe or loading charges to avail themselves of the services of the Samudra project. They would be able to alight at the designated vending points where they would be permitted to sell fish.
The project would soon be extended to other coastal districts, he said.
The Fisheries Department estimated around 400 women to be engaged in the fish vending business in various parts of the district. Among them, around 285 people frequented various markets to sell fish on a regular basis. Elaborating the projects being undertaken for the welfare of the coastal community, Mr. Cherian said 20,000 houses would be constructed in coastal areas within the next three years. These would be in addition to those constructed under the LIFE Mission.
He added that the Chief Minister would launch the handing over of keys to 700 houses that had been constructed across 31 constituencies under the Punargeham project on September 16. Efforts to establish seafood restaurants in places across the State including Vizhinjam was progressing. Steps had also been adopted to implement an Aqua Tourism project in the State, Mr. Cherian said.
General Education and Labour Minister V. Sivankutty, Food and Civil Supplies Minister G.R. Anil, V.K. Prasanth, K. Ansalan, MLAs, Transport Secretary Biju Prabhakar and Fisheries Director R. Girija also participated in the function.
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