Authorities have set out on a mission to ensure that adequate safety measures were present on tourist and government service boats in Alappuzha, where over 500 houseboats and at least 50 of the State Water Transport Department’s service boats operate every day.
The drive, led by Irrigation Executive Engineer P.D. Joseph, began with an inspection of the houseboats docked at the Punnamada Finishing Point. Of the 57 boats that were inspected, 30 were found unfit and with mandatory documents or necessary crew members absent. Documents that were missing from most boats included the essential Fitness Certificate, the Pollution Control Board’s certificate, and licenses for the crew (driver and lasker), life-safety equipment, fire safety measures and so on. Though most boats had lifebuoys and life-jackets, many did not have the adequate number of the same.
The drive had to be stopped midway for about three hours when the owners and staff of some boats that were declared unfit to ply, obstructed the officials. On resuming, the team issued orders to the owners of the 30 boats that were found ‘unfit’ to ensure that the necessary documents were prepared and other anomalies be corrected within 10 days if they were to be allowed to operate. Twenty-seven boats were found fit and given the permission to ply.
Mr. Joseph, talking to The Hindu later, said the drive would continue from Wednesday. The SWTD’s service boats that ply from Alappuzha to Kottayam, Kollam and the interior regions of Kuttanad and the various ferry services that operate in the remote areas of Kuttanad, Kayamkulam and Cherthala, would be inspected during the drive, which was launched following a Government Order issued on October 6 in the wake of the Thekkady boat tragedy that claimed 45 lives.