By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 23 May: Over 150 persons from Uttarakhand continue to be stranded in Andaman Islands for many days now but the state government has apparently not made any attempt to get in touch with them and help them return to the state so far.
Speaking to Garhwal Post, Vinod Sajwan based in Dehradun informed that he had played a key role in bringing over 50 persons from Uttarakhand to Andaman islands for various hospitality related jobs, but now the hotels were closed and the boys were facing huge problems. He added that he had contacted Uttarakhand officials on given helpline numbers several times. He was promised help for all the Uttarakhandis stranded in the islands but nothing so far has been done on ground.
Jagveer Pundeer, originally from district Tehri confirmed today that no one from the Uttarakhand Government had contacted the stranded persons from Uttarakhand so far despite the fact that some media publications had published stories on their plight! Most of these persons work in hospitality industry in various hotels and resorts in different islands of Andaman but have lost their jobs and have run out of money. Once the lockdown began and all domestic flight operations were shut, the hotels in the tourist centric group of islands also had to shut and go out of business. As a result, about 4000 persons from mainland India lost their jobs. However as the flights were not operating and no mode of transport was available to them, they continued to remain stranded. Majority of these persons did not even get their due salaries and many of them were paid salaries only till March. Some did not even get salaries for the month of March. However, the hotels and resorts have so far allowed these persons to continue to stay till they return to their respective native places. Speaking to this correspondent Ankit Rawat from Pathri village in district Haridwar, informed that he was working at a hotel some 2 hours of ferry ride away from Port Blair and as per his information there were between 150 to 200 persons from Uttarakhand who were stranded in the islands. However he added that regular communication between them was not easy as most of them worked in different islands and different locations and the government ferries were the only mode of transport for them.
Most of the stranded persons from Uttarakhand had registered themselves for their return and were hoping that flights would resume from 25 May. Most of the persons stranded in the islands whether from Uttarakhand or any other state of India, wish to return as they apprehend that tourism will not resume so early in the country and even in the islands which otherwise remains a green zone with zero number of Corona positive cases.
However, the bigger question remains why no one from Uttarakhand Government had attempted to establish any communication with them and help them out particularly when stories regarding these persons had been published prominently in a section of media in the state? There appears to be no proactive approach in the state administration to establish contact with those stranded in Andaman and elsewhere in the country!