The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) has revoked the contract of Kotia Projects, the company responsible for managing the recreational area of Motnath lake in Gujarat, where a boating accident recently resulted in the deaths of 12 students and two teachers.

The decision came after investigation revealed the boat was overloaded and lacked sufficient life jackets, VMC's standing committee chairperson Sheetal Mistry said on Saturday.

The contract with Kotia Projects also involved the development of additional facilities around the lake, including a jogging track, a children's play area, seating arrangements, fun rides, an amphitheatre, a multi-purpose hall, and the installation of decorative lighting.

The total investment for these enhancements was estimated at Rs 7.43 crore.

The boat tragedy occurred on January 18 when a group of students and teachers, on a picnic, met with the accident in the Harni area's Motnath lake.

Following the incident, the VMC took swift action, with the municipal commissioner citing a violation of contractual terms as the reason for termination.

The area has since been sealed off.

Kotia Projects has been managing the lakefront for recreational activities since 2017 under a Public-Private Partnership model, paying an annual fee of Rs 3,01,111 to VMC for a lease period of 30 years.

Covering 55,164 square meters, Motnath Lake's management included the operation of pedal and mechanised boats, the establishment of a 42-square-metre jetty, and the provision of lifeguards and rescue vessels.

The contract, awarded in 2017 and fulfilled in 2019, emphasised the need for life jackets and lifeguards for boat riders.

However, the FIR filed after the accident noted the lack of life jackets for most children onboard.

The original proposal for the lake's management highlighted the importance of safety measures, stating that combining mandatory life jackets and professional lifeguards was crucial for ensuring a secure and enjoyable boating experience.

Despite this, the land was leased to Kotia Projects at a nominal rate of Re 1 per annum, with VMC waiving municipal taxes.

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