Pvt agency engaged in scuba diving without boat

Visakhapatnam: The death of a 24-year-old youth from a fisherfolk family in a boat accident in Rushikonda last week has brought under the scanner the way promotion of adventure water sports is done by the AP Tourism Development Corporation.

The APTDC, apart from operating two of its own speed boats, has signed an agreement in 2020 with Fun Adventures that has one speed boat and three kayaks. It signed another pact with Live In Adventures that operates two speed boats, three kayaks and a recreational scuba diving system. All the activities are carried out in Rushikonda.

The agreement was signed in December 2020 after the port officer of Kakinada issued a certificate of survey and a certificate of registration on behalf of the registrar of water sports craft, under the AP Maritime Board. This is valid till October 24, 2022. But the port officer received no application for issue of a certificate or grant of registration to the speed boat that was being used as a makeshift diving boat.

Inquiries revealed that the APTDC chose to ignore the fact that the Live In Adventures had no diving boat. Rather, the firm converted a speed boat into a makeshift diving boat and carried out its operations in the last two years.

Water fleet manager of APTDC, Nageswara Rao, refused to reveal the contents of this agreement.

“We have launched an inquiry into the recent boat accident and into the other activities of Live In Adventure. We have also barred their operations until further orders,’’ he told DC.

The adventure tour operators association of India (ATOAI) in its guidelines on scuba diving stated that all dive centres offering this facility must have dive boats. The manual said the boat must be custom- made to suit its passengers’ requirements, must have chambers for placing filled cylinders, and all essential safety and recovery gears and equipment that include First Aid kits and emergency oxygen cylinders.

As per the other stipulations, the hull has to be designed with sufficient space to administer First Aid and CPR in case of a requirement. The makeshift boat of Live-In Adventures is not big enough to comply with these mandatory guidelines.

ATOAI formulated these guidelines on the directions of the Union Ministry of Tourism in 2018.

Live In Adventure carries two tourists, two diving experts and a driver in the makeshift boat to a distance of one nautical mile (1.8 km) as restricted by the APTDC.

An APTDC official said the corporation has selected Live In Adventures as per the technical evaluation conducted by a committee of the ATOAI for adventure activities at Rushikonda. Balaram Naidu, promoter of Live In Adventure, was not available for comment

Next Story