Do amusement parks follow safety standards? What happens when an accident takes place? Read on…

On holidays, especially weekends, almost all amusement parks are packed with families, irrespective of their age and economic status. It has become an outing that is a must for most families living in cities. In today’s world, it is rare to find persons who have never visited an amusement park.

On their part, amusement parks and theme parks keep the crowds flowing in by constantly announcing several bewitching offers. But the real problem arises when these commercial entertainers are left unregulated and attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility if an untoward incident occurs. Similarly, knee jerk reactions by the authorities leave the major issues unresolved. The real gravity of the situation is fully realised only when it recurs and leaves the victims without any redress.

Sumesh, a typical teenager went to a popular amusement park with his friends to welcome the New Year, full of enthusiasm. When these youngsters were enjoying the New Year Eve programmes, the dance floor, an elevated platform, suddenly caved in causing severe injury to many of them, including Sumesh.

The next day, in the hospital, Sumesh found that many of his valuables, including his mobile phone, gold ring and chain were missing and he immediately complained to the officials. The issue was said to be resolved when the manager of the park compensated all the victims for the loss of their valuables.

On another fateful day, Priya and her college mates went to a theme park for an excursion. Their boat suddenly capsized and all of them succumbed since no safety standards were followed and there was no immediate help available.

Similarly, Nirupa, a four-year-old girl, went along with her parents to an amusement park to enjoy the games and rides. Her parents first took her for a ride on the electric jhoola (swing) thinking that Nirupa would really enjoy the ride.

Nirupa was excited when the swing reached its peak but unfortunately it sounded the death knell for her, since their seats got detached and the family were thrown from the height they were at with great force to the ground. Nirupa died on the spot.

Nirupa’s parents were in shock when they were admitted to a hospital for treatment. Mahesh, uncle of Nirupa, approached the authority concerned of the amusement park, asking him to accept liability for the incident.

When he denied all responsibility and left the victims without any relief, Nirupa’s parents sought the aid of the Consumer Fora in getting justice and the National Commission readily accepted their contentions. But it could render only monetary justice to them by accepting its inability to compensate the loss of their only child. The Commission opined that effective regulations against these amusement parks would alone restrict the recurrence of these unfortunate events.

Having experienced these fateful incidents, aggrieved parents looked at the role of the government in regulating the activities of these commercial giants and to everyone’s shock, they realised its role is limited only to providing financial assistance and grants to them. These parks are neither supervised nor controlled by any authority. Despite the fact that these parks are amenable to industrial jurisprudence for protecting the interests of the workers, the safety of the consumers has been completely unheeded by the service providers as well as the law enforcers.

Though the Consumer Fora aid consumers in obtaining monetary compensation, complete justice can never be done to the victims for the injuries caused or for the loss of life unless stringent regulations are brought in by the legislators. There is heightened urgency for the Government to regulate these amusement parks failing which, they may turn into regular death traps!

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details/queries contact 24914358/24460387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

S.SAROJA

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