Express Message Service
PUDUCHERRY: As Puducherry prepares to take delivery of its first luxury cruise ship, the MV Empress, operated by Cordelia Cruises, on June 10, controversy abounds. She has yet to receive permission from the Puducherry government to dock on her shore.
“The Puducherry government has not yet approved the cruise ship. No file has been sent to me in this regard,” said Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan while interacting with journalists on Monday.
However, sources say Cordelia Cruises had approached Puducherry port authorities sometime in May to obtain the necessary permits, which have yet to be granted. “Your application is being processed,” a senior port official told TNIE.
Port clearance is mandatory for the cruise ship’s boats to enter the Puducherry port area to disembark passengers. “The cruise ship will anchor in the sea off the coast of Puducherry and boats will bring people to port,” said Commander Nevil Malao, VP Head of Cruise Cell, JM Baxi & Co. JM Baxi & Co are the agents for the ship .
The ship, which was flagged out from Chennai to Visakhapatanam on June 6, is scheduled to depart Visakhapatnam for Puducherry on June 8 at 8:00 p.m. and arrive on June 10 at 7:00 a.m. A senior government official with TN’s tourism department said Puducherry Port has no dock, so the ship has to anchor at sea and bring passengers ashore in small boats. Tourism Minister K Lakshminarayanan is pleased with the cruise ship’s arrival in Puducherry as it will boost tourism and generate revenue for the government. He said the issue will be resolved soon and they will provide all the facilities for the ship.
However, sources say the government is concerned because the Cordelia cruise was in the news after 14 people on board and eight on board were arrested by the NCB in a drug raid in Mumbai in October 2021. The Puducherry government is therefore taking measures to ensure that drugs are not being transported and that the ship does not attract people to casinos on board. The government wants the operator to make a commitment on this, senior sources said.
Deny permission for casino: AIADMK
AIADMK Secretary (East) A Anbazhagan asked the government to allow the cruise ship only if it does not have a casino. He said the Merchant Marine Ministry had not obtained permission from the Puducherry government to anchor the ship within 15 nautical miles of the UT coast and that Puducherry Transport Minister Chandira Priyanga should clarify the matter. AIADMK (West) Secretary Om Sakthi Sekhar repeated the same thing.