Lax safety measures and absence of a regulatory body ups risk factor at amusement parks

On Tuesday evening, Karate V. Chandru fell on his knees after he heard of the accident at EVP World theme park.

A week ago, his teenager son escaped by a whisker after the safety mats slipped out from beneath him on a water slide. On September 23, Mr. Chandru and his family visited EVP World and about 12.30 p.m., he went on a water slide ride with his son Prince, a class-XI student.

“It was a 40-feet-tall slide. The lifeguard gave my son three rubber mats to lie on. I asked him why Prince needed three mats and if one mat was not protection enough. But he said since my son was not heavy enough, three mats were needed,” Mr. Chandru said on Tuesday.

When Prince lay down on the mat and started going down head first, two of the mats slipped out and he lost control. The boy held on to the sides of the slide. “We pulled him by the leg and slowly got him off the slide. The slide was not covered on the top and neither were there any descriptive safety instructions or diagrams about the ride,” said Mr. Chandru. He filed a police complaint blaming the lifeguard and theme park management for negligence.

The death of flight attendant Afia Magh on Tuesday highlights the urgent need for a regulatory body to ensure safety in amusement parks. “Theme parks are meant for entertainment. Proper checks should be conducted and a government body must monitor the safety mechanisms in place,” said Mr. Chandru.

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) provides guidelines on safety in amusement parks. “But there is no independent body to monitor safety. That is left to the respective amusement parks. It is better if a foreign firm with expertise on amusement park rides carries out periodic checks on the rides and equipment,” said a member of the Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries (IAAPI).

The public works department said it could carry out stability checks only if the police asked it to do so.

“While seeking permission to set up such a park, safety measures should be adhered to. At present, the local body gives sanction for setting up amusement parks,” an official said.

The amusement park industry is just 15 years old and it needs an exclusive regulatory body which can look into the safety aspects, an expert said.

“The role of the Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services (TNFRS) is restricted to fire safety and rescue. We do not check for safety aspects at such theme parks,” said a senior TNFRS officer.

The IAAPI member said most big parks conducted regular training for their staff on safety and maintenance.

“Recently there was a workshop where a large number of representatives from amusement parks participated. They were taught about various safety aspects and asked to ensure security measures were in place,” the member said.

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