Kerala: Plot to damage first solar ferry boat
Kochi: An alleged attempt was made to sabotage the country’s first solar ferry service when unidentified miscreants “removed” rudder installation in the cover of night, putting in danger lives of hundreds of passengers daily commuting in the 2.5 km Vaikom-Tavanakadavu section. The State Water Transport Department (SWTD) has approached the Kottayam superintendent of police with a compliant following the attempt made on Wednesday night.
“The rudder device, used to change direction of the boat, was found missing when the crew reported for work on Thursday morning. The same is being fastened by six bolts and there is only a minor possibility of all of them getting loosened at once,” said Shaji V. Nair, director, SWTD. “We’ve taken up the issue with the transport minister A.K. Saseendran and also given a verbal complaint with the Kottayam superintendent of police. A written complaint, addressing him, will be filed on Saturday morning. We’ve filed a complaint with the local police (Vaikom) on Thursday morning itself. We suspect a conspiracy to sabotage the solar ferry service,” he said.
According to experts, upon operating the boat without rudder device, the boat cannot be controlled, especially in the section experiencing tidal waves, risking passenger lives. “It was detected in our daily inspection done in the morning. The device is under the desk and can be detected only in detailed inspection,” an SWTD official said. A CCTV camera has been installed inside the 75-seater boat but the jetty at Vaikom, where it is anchored during night, has no such facility. The country’s first solar passenger boat ‘Aaditya’ was deployed in the section on January 12. The success of the service is crucial since the state government is planning to convert all diesel boats into solar ferries in a phased manner. Attempts are also on to roll out 10 more solar boats with the help of central fund.