The Tiruvallur district administration is in the process of forming a society to oversee tourist boating operations on the Pulicat Lake.
Following a boating tragedy on the lake last year, in which 22 persons died on Christmas day, boat rides in the area had been banned.
The fisherfolk of the panchayats of Kottaikuppam, Pazhaverkadu, Thangalperumbalam and Light House Kuppam have agreed to share the jobs that would be generated. “The boats would be docked at Pazhaverkadu, and so the villagers there would take responsibility for the boats,” said K. Gnanasekar Chettiyar of Arangamkuppam village in Light House Kuppam.
Jalandran, also of Arangamkuppam, said that fisherfolk in other panchayats were taking tourists on boat rides, in spite of the ban and without paying heed to safety precautions.
“We have submitted a complaint at the police station here asking them to prevent such rides as they could lead to unnecessary loss of life,” he said.
“Many tourists who come here for taking boat rides are disappointed that we don’t offer them any more. We ask them to visit the beach but facilities like toilets and parking are not available there. Recently, we submitted a petition to the collector, requesting a resumption of boat rides,” said R. Karunakaran, president, Light House Kuppam panchayat.
K.B. Kannaiyan, president, Pazhaverkadu panchayat, said the villagers had asked for 30 boats, but the district officials had said that it was not possible to ask the government for such a large number in one go. “They told us the charges would be fixed and. if possible, a portion of the funds would be shared among the panchayats,” he said.
The Tiruvallur district collector K. Veera Raghava Rao said, “We will soon be writing to the State government to allot funds for procuring boats. Presently, the guidelines are being framed. We want the boat drivers to be trained properly to ensure the safety of visitors. The boats would be well-equipped with life jackets and first-aid kits, among other things,” he said.