Kerala

Guidelines for houseboats

Fresh guidelines have been issued for houseboats amid concerns regarding their safety in the backwaters of Alappuzha.

The guidelines were issued after District Police Chief (DPC) S. Surendran convened a meeting of he Ports Department, Pollution Control Board, Tourism Department, and representatives of houseboats owners’ associations to discuss recurring accidents in the sector.

On April 3, a two-year-old girl hailing from Thane in Maharashtra lost her life after falling from a houseboat at Kainakary. In a similar accident, a seven-year-old boy drowned in Vembanad Lake at the Kannitta jetty, near Chungam, on April 13.

Officials said the new instructions were issued to prevent accidents. One of the major decisions taken in the meeting was to increase the height of railings at the lobby and rear-end of boats with seating facilities there. Besides, safety instructions will be displayed in multiple languages on houseboats. Further, houseboat crew will give instructions to tourists about dos and don’ts while on cruise. The crew should make sure that tourists standing on the lobby are wearing life jackets. There will also be some kind of regulation on taking selfies during cruise.

Emergency alarms

Houseboat owners have also been directed to set up an emergency alarm button on boats. They have been given 60 days to increase the height of railings.

The DPC also constituted a special team to look into the complaints of houseboats crew working under the influence of alcohol.

Meanwhile, K.C. Venugopal, MP, has sought the intervention of the State government to ensure the safety of tourists. “The lackadaisical attitude on the part of the government in enforcing the safety measures will destroy the houseboat sector. Even after recurring accidents, the Tourism Department is making hardly any intervention. The Tourism Minister should convene a meeting of houseboat owners, people’s representatives, officials, and employees,” Mr. Venugopal said.

The MP further demanded the setting up of an emergency response system with a speed boat to deal with emergency situations. “The authorities should make sure that boats and employees have valid licence. The police should also tighten surveillance,” he said.


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 5:24:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/guidelines-for-ensuring-safety-during-houseboat-cruises/article23574039.ece

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