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Deccan Herald

Sunday 11 October 2009
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FIRST EDIT
Safety last

“Boat tragedy was a result of sheer negligence.”


Last Wednesday’s boat mishap in Thekkady, a tourist resort in Kerala, in which 45 people lost their lives, was an entirely avoidable tragedy. The dead included tourists from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and other states. The Thekkady mishap happened immediately after a boat capsize in Bihar in which at least 60 people died. The Bihar mishap could be partly attributed to natural causes because the boat sank in the Bagmati river which was in spate following heavy monsoon rains. But the Thekkady mishap was the result of human lapses and sheer negligence. The Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, which has conducted boat rides in the lake for decades, failed to ensure that the most basic safety precautions were taken in its boat. The facts that have come to light are all don’ts of a lake ride.

The boat, made of fibre glass, is not considered to have been suitable for the trip as it probably had construction faults. There were only the driver and a helper as members of the crew. The driver was not trained in operating fiberglass boats. More importantly, passengers were not given life jackets. The few life jackets which were there in the boat were found dumped in the engine room in unopened packets. Passengers were also not properly briefed on the safety measures and steps to be taken in an emergency. The boat was overcrowded and seems to have tipped up when the tourists moved to one side of the boat to watch wild animals onshore. But it is also suspected that a sudden manoeuvre by the driver caused it to topple. KTDC had not equipped itself with facilities for fast effective rescue operations. Even communication facilities were inadequate.  There were no speed boats, trained rescue personnel or expert swimmers available at the centre. Even the number of people on the boat could not be ascertained correctly after the tragedy. There couldn’t be a worse way of running a resort which attracts tens of thousands of tourists every day from all parts of the country and abroad.
A judicial inquiry has been ordered into the mishap. That does not help much. Safety precautions that need to be taken are all known. What is needed is the willingness of the staff to implement them and the determination of authorities to ensure that they are followed.
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 User Comments
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By: aarti
On: 06 Oct 2009 06:31 pm

Yes, after tragedy people become very smart and start pointing fingers about safety violations and what not.

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By: aarti
On: 06 Oct 2009 06:33 pm

...contd... What are these smarty pants doing before the tragedy? These tragedies are not new, they happen in mall elevators, go-karts, bungee jumping, roller-coasters, pools, rivers and everywhere else.

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By: aarti
On: 06 Oct 2009 06:34 pm

...contd.. Publics apathy is just plain lousy. Today, if you go to Sangam near Srirang Patna or Hognekal falls you will see people taking

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By: aarti
On: 06 Oct 2009 06:36 pm

..contd.. taking rides "chappus" the small "boat"(for lack of better term) for fun. How many people had taken rides in Thekkady before this incident? and how many were well educated? Did they not see this coming?

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By: aarti
On: 06 Oct 2009 06:37 pm

..contd.. Stop being smarty pant after accidents, be pro-active and save some lives!

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By: KV Suryanarayanan
On: 06 Oct 2009 09:45 am

The tragedy that happened in Thekkady should be an eye opener for all sightseeing tour operators, boat operators and others to take all safety precautions to ensure that such an incident does not recur anywhere in the world in future. Let the lives of people who died teach lessons to the authorities concerned across the world to be careful in future.

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