Kakinada: The State Government will take up ‘Bathymetric Surveys' of the rivers in the State, particularly the Godavari and Krishna rivers. The surveys will measure the depth of the rivers as well as map the underwater features of the rivers. It will help to create a ‘navigation route' for various boats.
According to sources, such surveys used to be conducted years back. But there have been vast changes in the rivers over the years due to man-made mistakes and also due to climate changes.
In the first phase, the ‘bathymetric survey' will be undertaken in River Godavari, where several boat tragedies have occurred in recent times. The depth of the river Godavari varies from place to place. In Kerala, the depth in the rivers are only 7 to 8 feet and the boats are also made based on this depth. But in the Godavari River, the depth varies dramatically along the route. In one place, the depth could be 8 feet while just a few metres away, it could be 20 to 30 feet. In Papikondalu area, the depth is about 70 to 80 feet! Apart from this, in the last couple of deca-des, sand-dunes have developed close to the banks becoming one of the premier reasons for the depletion of the waters.
The Irrigation Depar-tment officials say that already a navigation channel is there in the river and all the boats have to follow this channel's path. The boat which nearly claimed 20 lives three days back near Devipatnam mandal was also said to be sailing along the same path when it hit a sand-pit and capsized. But the passengers escaped narrowly. "It is necessary to make a bathymetry survey on river Godavari. Proposals are being prepared for it. The Government has to take a decision on it'', said the Superintendent Engineer of Irrigation Department of Dowles-waram Circle Mr. N. Krishna Rao. He said that with the survey, it will be easier to mark the stoppage of boats and navigation channels in the river. However, he said that surveys can be conducted by either the Irrigation Department or the Port Department, but according to the books, ‘Inland Waterways' come under Port Department. Previously, experts actually stepped into the waters and assessed the depth. But now advanced technology is available for measuring the depth and mar-king the dangerous zones.
No permanent lifeguards stationed at Godavari
So far, there were no permanent lifeguards for River Godavari who could jump in and rescue passengers in a disaster. But now, the Government has appointed two permanent swimmers for each marine police station. If any disaster occurs in the Bay of Bengal, the swimmers are utilised. But, in the case of River Godavari, departments like Police, Fire, Irrigation and others depend largely upon the Fisheries Department. The nearby fisheries' officials identify fishermen who can be sent for the rescue.
The Fishermen Associations say that the permanent swimmers shou-ld be appointed in places like Dowleswaram, Raj-ahmundry, Sithanagar-am, Devipatnam, Kovv-uru, Pattiseema, Polava-ram across the Godavari river for immediate rescue operations, if and when a disaster occurs.
The fishermen do this service for free. If they are paid by the Fisheries Department, they accept the remuneration, but dont ask for it. But some of the fishermen leaders say that trained swimmers shou-ld be appointed across the Godavari. NDRF is giving training to some of the fishermen in the seahore. areas.