Godavari Boat Capsize: 'Lapses In Boat Licences Allotment' Under Andhra Chief Minister's Scanner
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday announced Rs 10 lakh as ex-gratia to the families of the victims of the boat tragedy in Godavari river on Sunday. Taking a serious note of the procedural lapses in allotment of licences the chief minister has instructed officials to take corrective measures and set up a committee to look into all aspects of the mishap.
The CM along with the state Home Minister, Suchitra conducted an aerial survey of the accident site while on his way to Rajahmundry.
A private ferry carrying tourists to Andhra Pradesh’s Papikondalu Hills was capsized midway in the Godavari river which was flowing to its brim. The boat “Royal Vasishta” was ferrying 73 passengers on board – 41 from Telangana and 32 from Andhra Pradesh – including 9 crew members when the accident took place. Apparently, the boat after a collision with a large rock overturned at Kachuchuluru in East Godavari District, about 200km from Amravati.
According to the State Disaster Management Authority(SDMA), 27 passengers have been rescued by the villagers while 8 bodies have been fished out and 38 are others are still missing. According to media reports, four more bodies were recovered on Monday, taking the death toll to 12.
Enforcement of safety measures is cited to be the main reason since none of the bodies taken out had life jackets on them. All of them who survived had body safety vests, on questioning them they revealed that many had taken off the jackets just because it had made them feel suffocated under the scorching sun. In a similar incident that took place in the Godavari in 1964 had caused 60 deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy among others expressed grief over the tragedy.
Avanti Srinivas, AP Tourism Minister said that these boats had no license to operate did not seek any permission from local authorities to run tourists’ trips at this time when the river had swollen up to this extent.
The boat owner has been currently held responsible and is taken custody for further action. Meanwhile, officials have suspended the current license help by these private bodies. They will be asked for further safety measures onboard with staff well equipped and trained before they can continue.
According to The Times of India report, as the boat approached the famous tourist spot more people started moving from the lower deck to the top in order to get better views. This caused the boat to lose its balance tilt to one end, at this point the crew told the people inside not to stand at one place. “As the water began to enter the lower deck, I started to distribute the life jackets, but the ferry soon overturned” Suresh, a survivor said. “All those with life jackets were saved by the villagers nearby,” a survivor told.