“Compliance level at Udhagamandalam is merely 50%”

Seemingly unaware of Sunday's boat tragedy at Pazhaverkadu that claimed 22 lives, tourists at the Udhagamandalam boat house refuse to wear life vests, despite repeated pleas from Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) officials.

According to sources, the compliance level is about 50 per cent, even though the wearing of life jackets was made mandatory after the Thekkady boat tragedy that took place some two years ago. The compliance level at other TTDC-managed boat houses is 100 per cent.

Talking to The Hindu, a TTDC official said, “Though we have been advising tourists for a long time to wear life jackets, they do not listen to us. But, the campaign has been intensified since Sunday. We have posted life savers at different points and they are also not able to do much as a majority of the travellers are from North India and are refusing to co-operate with us. We will erect huge sign boards soon urging everyone to wear it compulsorily.” Visitors are reluctant to wear dirty and partly mutilated life vests, while some of them are averse to life jackets worn by others. Humid condition is said to be another reason for fall in compliance level. As these life jackets have a very short shelf life, regular washing has spoiled their appearance, said another TTDC official.

In the case of the TTDC Kodaikanal boat house, officials face a peculiar problem. It has one boarding point and three landing points. Some of the tourists remove life jacket after travelling just a few meters. Efforts would be made to follow the rules strictly, said the boat house manager.

To avoid tragedy and to achieve 100 per cent compliance at its boathouses, TTDC boat house managers have requested the management to supply 1,500 life jackets. TTDC had earlier decided to buy new and trendy life jackets. So far, over 200 life jackets have been supplied to a couple of boat houses and the rest are yet to be procured.

Since Sunday, visitors to Muttukadu boat house and Mudaliarkuppam Rain Drop Boat house have by and large sought life jackets while going for boat rides, officials said.