Chilika boat mishap: Govt seeks detailed report

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Bhubaneswar/Berhampur: A day after the tragic mishap in Chilika lake resulting in the death of four passengers, the Commerce and Transport department today sought a detailed report from the Directorate of Ports and Inland Water Transport.

“I have asked the Directorate of Ports and Inland Water Transport to submit a detailed report about the incident. On the basis of the report, the state government will take appropriate action”, Commerce and Transport minister Ramesh Majhi told media persons here.

Talking to the media today, Bhimsen Behera, president of Sabulia Society, said out of about 150 country boats ferrying in Chilika Lake, only 20-25 boats have life jackets. Since large number of tourists used to ferry in the lake every day, it is not possible to provide them the life jackets, he pointed out.

He said due to acute shortage of life jackets, the passengers who were travelling in the ill-fated boat yesterday had met with the tragic mishap. “We have urged the district administration and the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) to provide us with adequate number of life jackets to ensure that such unfortunate incident will not occur in future,” Behera pointed out.

Also read: 4 killed in Chilika boat capsize

District Fisheries Officer, Ganjam, Khetrabasi Behera, who visited the accident site today, told media persons that the tragic incident occurred due to lack of safety awareness of the boatman who had ferried passengers more than the capacity of the boat in gross violation of the rules framed by the government. Besides, the boat owner has not done the renewal of his boat since registration, he added.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CDA, B Krishnamohan, who had visited the mishap site earlier in the day, said the condition of the ill-fated boat which had carried 29 passengers yesterday is precarious.

“This was a fishing boat which can carry a maximum of two persons. I think the passengers, who had gone in this boat, could be the relative of the boatman,” he said.

“What I see here, there are about 25 fibre boats while more than 100 are wooden boats whose condition is far from satisfactory,” he noted.

On the other hand, the Rambha Police today seized the ill-fated boat.

Sources said though there are boats which are meant for the tourists, the latter usually prefer fishing boats as they are charged less money as compared to the tourist boats. Besides, there is no time constraint for the tourist while ferrying in fishing boats while tourist boats have specified time schedule of their departure and arrival.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom has descended Sabulia village following the death of four persons.

“We are let down by the death of four persons of our village and have not taken our food since yesterday”, said Anjali Behera, a grief-stricken woman of Sabulia village.

Notably, 29 members (18 male, 8 female and 3 children) of a family and their relatives and friends of Sabulia village were on the way to Ghantasila inside the lake for a picnic yesterday when the boatman lost control of the overloaded boat which capsized.

While four persons including two children died in the mishap, the remaining passengers were rescued by the local fishermen and the Fire Brigade team.

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