An official report on the boat capsize at Thekkady last week has raised questions about the goings on in the tourist centre.
The confidential report is learnt to have put the total number of passengers on board the boat at 92, which was 17 more than the permitted 75. This is besides the boat driver, a helper and two small children below five years.
The report says that though the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) had issued only 75 tickets for the trip, 17 more persons were accommodated on the boat illegally violating all safety norms. The report said the KTDC had made arrangement to put 16 additional chairs on the upper deck and two on the lower deck. One chair was kept vacant for keeping the camera of a passenger.
The report says quoting survivors of the tragedy that the reported tilting of the boat leading to the capsize was not load-induced. Many survivors have said that no wildlife was sighted then, and that the boat capsize was due to a sharp turn taken by the driver when it reached Manakkavala in the Mullapperiyar reservoir around 5.10 p.m.
The boat driver and the helper have confessed to the presence of 14 additional persons on board. They have revealed the identity of eight passengers sent from a local resort without tickets.
The report mentions about an unholy nexus among KTDC officials, hoteliers, their agents, and officials attached the Forest Department.
The ticket fare for KTDC boats has been fixed at Rs.50 while that of the Forest Department is only Rs 40. However, agents of an alleged racket sell tickets in the black at a much higher price ranging between Rs.300 and Rs.1,000, depending upon the rush of tourists.