Confusion over norms for amusement parks

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NEVER TOO LATE: It is time to frame stringent rules for addressing safety issues.
NEVER TOO LATE: It is time to frame stringent rules for addressing safety issues.

R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI: In the wake of a series of disasters in amusement parks, the State Government is thinking of a regulatory framework for them.

In the latest incident, an 11-year-old girl died on Wednesday when two motor boats collided at Queensland Amusement Park near Poonamallee. Many accidents have been reported from other parks too, throwing up safety questions.

“We have to get our act together. It is time that we had stringent rules like in the West to deal with these problems. Otherwise, our reputation as a tourist destination will suffer,” said a senior official. While the police deal with regulation of any place that attracts a crowd, the department has no role in ensuring that the equipment inside the amusement parks are safe. The Fire department’s role too is limited in ensuring that a few other regulations are adhered to. The local bodies give a few other sanctions to parks but they too claim that they have no role in the overall safety aspects of any park.

Tourism Minister Suresh Rajan said that his department did not have the powers to look into structural stability or safety aspects. “Even in the issue of categorising hotels, it is the Centre that sends a team. The rules are laid down and once these are adhered to, a particular hotel is given the star status it qualifies for,” said Tourism Secretary V. Irai Anbu.

Since the Public Works Department looks into the structural stability of buildings the Government is of the view that it should certify all structures at amusement parks. This should be done periodically, depending on the location (whether near the sea or hill) and the frequency of usage. There is also a suggestion that each ride/amusement has to be closed for a day of the week for a thorough end-to-end inspection.

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