Panel suggests steps to prevent boat accidents

The six-member committee, which probed the boat tragedy in the Godavari at Kachuluru village of Devipatnam mandal, has submitted its report to the government.

The panel has suggested several measures pertaining to licence renewal system, route maps, monitoring of boats at different levels and suspension of boating operations during floods to prevent accidents in the rivers and water bodies.

Royal Vasista, a private boat with 77 people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on board, had capsized in the Godavari en route to Papikondalu on September 15. People of nearby villages had saved 26 persons. Expert swimmers and fishermen had retrieved 47 bodies later. The fate of the remaining passengers remains unknown till date.

A day after the tragedy, Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy had constituted a high-level committee headed by Special Chief Secretary (irrigation) Adityanath Das to probe the accident.

Special Chief Secretary (revenue), Principal Secretary (tourism), Additional Director General (law and order) and Director (ports) were its members and the East Godavari Collector convenor.

The panel, after conducting a detailed study on the causes of the tragedy, has suggested several measures. It has favoured proper licence renewal system, regular checking of vessels, restricting unfit and unlicensed boats, suspension of boating operations during floods and setting up control rooms for monitoring tourist boats at different points.

Licence renewal

“We focussed on the causes of boat accidents in the past and the precautions to be taken by boat owners and sarangs (drivers) to prevent them. The ports and irrigation officials, who are authorised to issue licence and route permits, must strictly follow the norms laid down under the Indian Registration of Shipping and the Inland Vessels Act, 1917 and the Public Canals and Ferry Act, 1890,” said a member of the expert committee. He said the sarangs must take measures to avoid overloading, carrying of inflammable material and liquor.

They must ensure that all the passengers and crew members on board wear life jackets.

Safety gadgets

“All boats should be equipped with safety gadgets such as inflated tubes, ropes and other material. Regular training sessions should be organised for boat drivers,” said another member of the panel.

The officials of ports, irrigation, police, revenue, tourism, fire safety departments and the district administration concerned should exercise control over boating operations in their respective districts, he suggested.

Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is scheduled to tour East Godavari district on November 21, will lay the foundation stone for a control room at Mummidivaram.

“Of the nine control rooms proposed by the committee, seven would be set up at Devipatnam, Rajamahendravaram, Gandi Pochamma temple, V.R. Puram, Kunavaram and other points, and at Polavaram in West Godavari district. All boats would be provided with GPS facility so that they could be monitored from the control rooms. The Police Department will also monitor the boating operations,” said East Godavari Superintendent of Police (SP) Adnan Nayeem Asmi.

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