Vijayawada: Personnel of the State Disaster Response Force (SRDF) from Uttarakhand have found the tourist boat, which sank in the Godavari river at Devipatnam in the East Godavari district four days ago, at about 70 metres depth with the help of a sonar device on Wednesday.
Now the SRDF personnel are faced with the challenge of retrieving the boat and bringing it back to shore. Officials are exploring various options on how to salvage the 25 to 30 tonne Royal Vasista boat from the bottom of the river.
Following the copious rainfall in catchment areas and authorities discharging water from the Sir Arthur Cotton barrage into the sea, the river has about 3.54 lakh cusecs of water inflows. Though water levels have come down last few days, the high velocity of water continues to hamper rescue operations.
Moreover, the river course at the place of mishap is curvaceous and very narrow as it passes through two hills and its depth is more at this point. As the river is witnessing floods, its water is having high le-vel turbidity by bringing down the visibility to just a few metres distance.
Authorities have also noticed the presence of three different whirlpools not far from point of mishap, which have unusually been located with a radius of eight to 10 metres each, and are merging into one mega-whirlpool for every 15 to 20 minutes, before separating again. It is believ-ed it was such one mega-whirlpool which might have sucked the boat in and drowned it, even as the driver, unaware of its presence, navigated the boat into it.
Big boats ruled out due to river course
Deep sea divers of the Indian Navy go up to a depth ranging between 35 to 40 metres, while the boat to be salvaged lies at the river bottom at 70 metres depth, authorities said.
The SRDF personnel initially tried to use a camera to find out its location on the river bed but in vain, as the camera was washed away in the river current. Besides, the water was very muddy, making visibility very poor and photography as an approach to locate the boat impossible.
Though the authorities planned to get a big ship from agencies like the ONGC or Reliance to help salvage the sunken boat, it was ruled out due to the narrow course of the river.
D. Muralidhar Reddy, district collector, East Godavari, said, “We are involving experts from various departments and agencies to explore various options on how to salvage the sunken boat, given inclement weather conditions and other hurdles. We wish to bring it up by some means and soon.”
Finding its exact location gives hope that the salvage would be on shore soon, and bring a closure to sad incident....