About eight tourists drowned and 37 are still missing in the latest boat tragedy on the Godavari. What happened?

  • A private operator was taking over 70 tourists to see the scenic beauty of Papikondalu when the river was already flowing above its limit and without informing any authorities.
  • A sudden current of water at Kachuluru, one of the most dangerous spots en route proved to be too much for the inexperienced driver.
  • The boat tilted and capsized and only those wearing life jackets could save themselves.
  • Reports suggest that although tourists were given life jackets, many removed it due to the heat, for having lunch, taking selfies etc.
Committee to formulate preventive steps
  • Over 100 people have died due to boat tragedy/accidents in the last three years, the major one being on the Krishna in November 2017 when 22 tourists lost their lives.
  • It is even sadder that all these accidents could have been prevented if simple precautions could have been taken, like having only experienced crew with valid licences, providing life jackets for all and not setting out when the river is in full flow.
  • The accident on the Krishna river in 2017 forced the Andhra Pradesh government to take action and a committee was formed to formulate preventive steps.
  • The committee pointed to many problems regarding boat rides, one of them being the multiplicity of the departments concerned and lack of coordination among them.
  • Due to the lack of a single regulatory body, the entire process was very haphazard with no department willing to take responsibility.
  • The committee suggested making the directorate of ports as a nodal agency and the AP Inland Vessel Rules were brought into effect.
  • But there has been no follow up on this nodal agency and rules.
  • The rules have many loopholes too such as it brings all inland boats under the ambit of the Department of Ports but fails to specify that details on the number of boats, driver and passenger details, should be shared with the Irrigation Department officials or the Tourism Department on the ground.
  • Sharing of such information can help prevent such accidents from happening
Way forward
  • The Irrigation Department should be provided with details on the number of boats, their licence details, details of the drivers and their assistants, The timings of the boating points etc to maintain the traffic and check precautions taken.
  • Unless the recommendations of the committee are adhered to in letter and spirit and people are made to strictly adhere to rules and take proper precautions, such accidents are fearfully yet to pass.
  • NDMA guidelines on boat safety must be kept at the centre while framing any rules.
Also read: NDMA Guidelines On Boat Safety Pangong Tso lake Source