Vijayawada

Suspension of boat services hits rescue operations

A file photo of a boat anchored in the Godavari.  

Suspension of boat operations in the Godavari is worrying people and officers monitoring the flood situation in East and West Godavari districts.

About 70 vessels, with a capacity of about 50, and AC boats were operating in the Godavari from Bhadrachalam, Papikondalu, Polavaram and Devipatnam mandals, before the services were suspended following the accident involving Vasista Punnami Royal boat that capsized on September 15, 2019, killing 51 tourists.

Officials of West and East Godavari districts have appealed to the Ports authorities to give permission to operate 10 vessels for taking up emergency operations during floods from July to September.

However, boats owners have not reported till Saturday evening.

Launches required

K.R. Puram Integrated Tribal Development Agency Project Officer R.V. Suryanarayana said though the flood level had touched the first warning level, no vessels were in hand to meet the emergency situation. Vessels and mechanised boats were required to shift villagers and stranded tribal people in the river. “Every year, we keep about 10 launches (vessels) in standby for emergency operations,” he said.

“We are using country-made boats to shift the tribal people from the marooned hamlets in the Agency area. But, launches are necessary to operate in the swollen Godavari,” Mr. Suryanarayana said.

Kakinada in-charge Port Officer G.V. Raghava Rao said 10 boats — seven for East Godavari and three for West Godavari — had been permitted to take up rescue operations during floods.

Discussions held

“The Ports department extended the licenses issued by Irrigation department to boat crew, for one year. We gave 45 days permission for the 10 vessels on August 14,” Mr. Rao said.

A boat owner, Krishna, told The Hindu on Saturday that the crew refused to resume duty demanding two months’ salary in advance at ₹15,000 per head.

“Discussions were held with the Boat Workers’ Union leaders on Saturday, and government has agreed for their demand. The boat sarungs (drivers) and workers will report for duty by Sunday evening,” the vessel owner said.

“All the sarungs (drivers) are residing at Rajamahendravaram, and the boats were stopped at Pochamma Gandi, V.R. Puram, Devipatnam, Kukunur and other places. We will join duties from Sunday,” a boat driver said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 5:31:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/suspension-of-boat-services-hits-rescue-operations/article32366091.ece

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