Staff Reporter

Committee formed to oversee the safety drive in Vembanad Lake

Caution boards to be put up in danger zones

ALAPPUZHA: The collision of two houseboats on the Vembanad Lake near the R-Block of Kuttanad earlier this week, which resulted in the death of one person, has finally prompted authorities to think of a crackdown on houseboats operating without licenses and to ensure safety measures on the pleasure vessels.

After a meeting convened by District Collector P. Venugopal here on Friday, Irrigation Executive Engineer P.D. Joseph announced that all houseboats were to obtain necessary licenses within 30 days, failing which stringent action would be initiated against them.

The meeting, which was attended by houseboat owners, representatives of houseboat workers unions, the police, Irrigation and Tourism officials, also decided to constitute a committee to oversee the proposed special safety drive on the Vembanad Lake.

The committee, which would be headed by Mr. Joseph and District Tourism Promotion Council secretary Vinu Kumar, was entrusted to look into the structure of houseboats, necessary safety and security measures that required to be taken, safety equipment that had to be compulsorily installed in all houseboats and imparting of adequate training to houseboat crew.

The meeting also decided to identify all danger spots and danger zones in the Vembanad Lake and other routes where the 600-plus houseboats from Alappuzha and Kumarakom operated.

Caution boards would be put up in these areas.

While the Police and Tourism departments were entrusted with the job of cracking down on houseboats operating without licenses, houseboat owners were directed to ensure that all houseboats informed their cruise routes to the Tourism Police at Punnamada before embarking on each trip. Mr. Venugopal also restricted hoseboats from operating on the lake till 3 p.m. every day due to strong winds.