Tourist boats with invalid licences ply on Godavari

Rajahmundry: Even as tourist boats owners and operators were supposed to get new license to operate their boats on Godavari and Krishna rivers in the state from May 1st, as per the norms of Inland Vessels Rules, 2017, a majority of them failed to obtain it and intend to continue their operation on an ad hoc basis by getting relaxation for a month or so to avoid additional expenditure they will have to incur to get their boats surveyed and to carry out necessary modifications to make them more compatible and safe.

The State Government had issued an order in November 2017 to adopt the Central Inland Vessels Rules, 2017, and to comply with it to ensure more safety to the tourists while sailing on boats on rivers.

As the norms in the Rules are stringent, the State Government entrusted the responsibility of issuing license to the Department of Ports from May 1st as the existing license lapsed on April 30, 2018. Earlier, the Department of Water Resources used to issue license for a period of one year from May 1 to April 30 next year.

Though the authorities from the Departments of Ports and Water Resources have been advising the boat owners to get their boats surveyed and carry out recommended modifications in order to get new license by May 1st, their advise fell on deaf ears with a very few owners or operators responding to it.

Moreover, the Depar-tment of Ports is also having a shortage of surveyors and they are trying to empanel some private surveyors so that they can carry out the survey of the boats at government recommended fee.

In addition to this, the State Government has been sitting on a recommendation of a three- member panel to appoint a Chief Surveyor and two Assista-nt Surveyors in the Depart-ment of Ports to expedite carrying out survey of boats and get modifications done to them to issue license for a long time.

As per the norms, surveyors of naval architecture, either from the Depart-ment of Ports or from private agencies are supposed to carry out the survey on boats to find out their body strength, stability and to find out whether their body design is compatible with recommended standards in terms of tonnage and other parameters.

Once a thorough survey of the boats is over, the surveyors recommend certain modifications in order to make the boats more strong and safe to ply on rivers.

After carrying out all mandatory and requisite modifications on the boats, the boat owners will have to approach the Port officer, who in turn will inspect the boat based on the survey carried out and verify the modifications adopted, to issue license to the boats to operate on river for a period of a year.

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