Vijayawada: Lack of funds seems to have delayed the bathymetric survey that is required to develop navigation routes on the Godavari and Krishna rivers to enable tourism boats to operate to popular destinations like Papikondalu, Nagarjuna Hill and others in AP.
In the aftermath of a boat mishap on Krishna river in November, 2017, claiming several lives, the state government had initiated a series of measures ranging from total overhaul of boats to issue of licence, to ensure safety for passengers. Another boat mishap on the Godavari river in September 2019 forced the government to implement all safety norms strictly including setting up control rooms at regular intervals along the flood banks to keep tabs on the boats.
Accordingly, the water resources authorities were supposed to carry out bathymetric survey involving private agencies, after calling for bids. According to an estimate, it would cost Rs 1.8 crore to conduct a bathymetric survey on the Godavari river from Polavaram to Pochavaram covering nearly 70 km so that a navigation route could be developed for tourism boats. This survey has been delayed.
However, as the mines authorities excavate sand from the river bed, they assured that they would pay Rs 80 lakh out of the total cost of the survey. The authorities are looking for other sources to raise the funds to cover the balance.
Godavari river conservator R. Mohan Rao said, “We are able to find some sources of funding and we will call for bids to select the agency for taking up the survey.”
Authorities say that it will take three to four months to conduct such a survey once the works begin. Moreover, the survey has to be done once a year after the river experiences floods. The cost of the repeat surveys, however, will be 10 per cent of the first survey.
On the other hand, sources said that with the Polavaram project scheduled to be completed by December 2021, there is no need for such a survey as the river will be having adequate depth, as huge quantum of water will get stored in the reservoir.
On the Krishna river no bathymetric survey has been done, to fix a safe navigation route from the Nagarjunasagar dam to Nagarjuna Hill where Buddhist relics are secured in a museum, covering a distance of nearly 10 km. Even here, lack of funds is stated to be the reason.
Lack of safe navigation routes on both the rivers is having its impact on plying of tourism boats. Ever since the boat mishap in the Krishna, boat operators are unable to operate their high capacity boats on a regular basis for varied reasons resulting in a huge financial loss and service providers have lost their sources of income.
On the other hand, the tourism authorities are coming up with plans to revive boat operations mainly on both the rivers and also at other places in strict compliance with all safety norms.
AP Tourism Development Corporation joint manager (Water Fleet) Ch. Pavan Kumar said, “We are going to run a pilot boat followed by a fleet of tourism boats equipped with high end communication gadgets, carrying tourists to visit tourist places hereafter following the navigation route to ensure more safety for all.”