Vijayawada/Kakinada: The lack of navigation route maps on the Godavari to the popular tourist destination Papikondalu from the points of origin of boating at Gandi Pochamma of Devipatnam mandal in East Godavari and Pochavaram of V.R. Puram mandal in West Godavari, are said to be one of the prime reasons for the recent boat mishap.
Though the then TD government constituted a three-member expert committee, in the aftermath of the tragic death of 22 tourists in the Krishna river involving a private tourist boat in November, 2017, and entrusted the task of ensuring the safety of tourists on rivers by initiating several measures to the various departments including the director of ports, water resources and others, except for shifting the responsibility of issuing licences to boats after making them comply with safety norms to the department of ports, no major progress has been made in taking steps to ensure safety.
The department of ports carried out an inspection of all tourist boats and recommended their overhaul.
It issued licences to operate them on the river after compliance with standard safety norms.
Though the authority to issue annual licences to the boats was withdrawn from the department of water resources, it failed utterly to prepare navigation route maps. Unsurprisingly, the department is shifting blame to other departments for its failure.
A senior official from the department said, “As the Godavari river is declared as inland waterway, the Inland Waterways Authority of India is supposed to prepare navigation route maps for tourist boats to ply on the river to designated tourist places, including Papikondalu. Our role is confined to prepare such route maps only in reservoirs and ponds.”
A senior ports official said, “It is certainly the responsibility of department of water resources to prepare navigation route maps on the river and the department is trying to shift the blame to some other department to avoid criticism for being their slack in producing route maps in the last two years.”
Ironically, officials from both the departments admit that if there was a navigation route map on the Godavari river to Papikondalu, the boat mishap could have been averted as the driver, who navigated the boat, was not familiar with the route and moved towards a whirlpool which sucked the boat into it causing the deaths of several tourists.
Drivers didn’t know route took on turbulent zone
The two drivers of the ill-fated boat Royal Vashishta were new to the territory and inadvertently took it into a turbulent zone. The village people of Kachuluru noticed the boat tilted one side and saw the boat sinking.
Women of the village said that they sat outside their houses due to a power cut and were chatting in groups.
Suddenly, they saw a boat coming towards the turbulent spot. Even as they watched, the boat began to sink before their eyes.
Next they saw people in the water and some of them shouting for help. They informed the menfolk who rushed to rescue the drowning persons. Three persons died by the time they reached the shore.
The tribal people in the village said that even they also do not venture into the turbulent area of the waters. They expressed their concern over the persons and rendered their help to the victims....