Boat travellers crossing Godavari river are at risk

Published Nov 26, 2014, 1:38 pm IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
Officials fail to verify credentials of boat operators
A ferry carrying commuters and vehicles arrive at Kotipalli ghat  from Muktheswaram on Godavari river in East Godavari. (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)
 A ferry carrying commuters and vehicles arrive at Kotipalli ghat from Muktheswaram on Godavari river in East Godavari. (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)
Rajahmundry: The safety of the commuters crossing Godavari river and its tributaries Gautami and Vasishta from Kotipalli, Pattiseema, Narasapuram and other places, is at stake as the gram panchayats which auction the ferry service fail to keep track on credentials of contractors who take part in the auction and get it in their favour in Godavari districts. 
Hundreds of people, including students staying in island villages, cross the river on ferry service to reach the mainland to attend to their work while students to attend classes in their schools and colleges. 
The gram panchayats concerned call for annual auction for ferry service in these villages and several contractors take part in it and someone gets the bid in his or her favour. 
The gram panchayats are facing criticism for not verifying whether the contractors taking part in the bid are owning ferries, their condition, including the status of licence and man power. 
It has become a common practice in these villages of late that, the contractors after getting the bid in their favour, are searching for the ferries to take them on hire basis and are not bothered to verify such ferries are having valid license. 
Irrigation boat supervisor G. Prasanna Kumar said, “We are finding it difficult to persuade the gram panchayat officials to allow the contractors to take part in the auction to run ferry service in Godavari river only after verifying whether he or she is having the ferries in possession and also having the valid license for them to operate in the river.” 
Recently, nearly 40 devotees were stranded in two attached boats on Godavari river as they were being taken to a temple at Pattiseema for having darshan. As the two boats attached with ropes are being operated with one engine of a boat running, it ran out of fuel after sailing for a few metres from the ghat. 
The AP Tourism Devel-opment Corporation’s boat came to their rescue. The contractor learnt to have got the auction in his favour for Rs 6 lakh to operate boats from ghat to Pattiseema temple carrying devotees. 
On the other hand, the irrigation authorities who issue annual license to operate boats on Godavari, are going to take up a drive to inspect all the boats operating from Purushottapatnam, Polavaram and Pattiseema to the popular Papikondalu. 
Irrigation head works executive engineer and boat licensing authority P.V. Tirupati Rao said, “As we issue license every year during April, we are going to inspect the boats thoroughly to ensure safety to the commuters.”
Location: Andhra Pradesh