One month after boat tragedy, illegal operations go on

Even after 30 days after the major boat tragedy in the Krishna river in which 21 tourists died, no raids were conducted at major tourist spots in the State, and many boats were operating without permits.

The majority of the private boats are not following the rules prescribed by the Indian Registration of Shipping and the Inland Vessels Act, 1917. Many of the drivers on private vessels do not have the licence and experience.

Hitherto, the Irrigation Department officials issued licences to the boats. However, the issuing authorities did not mention the route in the licence and there was no insurance for either the vessels or the tourists.

According to the AP Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC) officials, 54 boats are being operated in Nagarjuna Sagar, Vijayawada, Rajamahendravaram, Visakhapatnam, Srisailam, Dindi Resorts, Pattiseema, Kakinada, Nellore Cheruvu, Gundlakamma Reservoir, Gargeyapuram Cheruvu, Brahmasagaram, Devuni Kapada and Mylavaram dam.

Unconfirmed reports say more than 200 private boats are being operated without obtaining licence at the tourist places. Interestingly, the officials concerned did not conduct any checks and booked cases against the illegal operators.

“We are operating about 54 boats in the State with the licences obtained from the Irrigation authorities, and necessary safety gadgets were provided on all tourism boats. The APTDC will give top priority for safety,” said APTDC in-charge General Manager (water fleet, buses, ropeway, sound and light) T.V. Sudarsana Rao.

117 permitted in Godavari, Krishna rivers

Deputy Executive Engineer, PWD Workshop, Seetanagaram in Guntur district, V. Srinivas Rao said 42 boats (both APTDC and private agencies) were given fitness certificates, as per the Public Canals and Ferry Act, 1890. However, about 70 boats are operating in the Krishna river.

Dowleswaram head works boating superintendent Prasanna Kumar said 75 boats including 14 launches were given fitness certificates from Rajamahendravaram to Papikondalu, 35 vessels from Pothavaram to Bhadrachalam and 26 tourist boats to operate in the Godavari river. But more than 100 boats are under operation in the river. “We will verify the hull shape, bottom, motor capacity, length and breadth, tonnage and other specifications and fix the capacity of passengers in each vessel,” said Mr. Srinivas Rao.

Fire safety norms

District Fire Officer (DFO) D. Niranjan Reddy said all the boat operators should follow the fire safety norms, and fire and foam extinguishers, sand buckets, caution boards, life buoys and powder type fire guns should be in place. “Over crowding should not be allowed and ‘No Smoking’ boards should be displayed. Inflammable material should not be allowed on the boats and emergency lighting facility like torch lights, LED battery lights should be arranged”, the DFO said.

The boat owner, sarung (driver) and other staff should ensure that the fire safety norms are followed on all boats, get the fire safety gadgets checked regularly with the AP State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department officials and take fire clearance certificate, Mr. Reddy added.

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