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Bodies of eight victims recovered in Tungabhadra boat tragedy

On the look out: Members of the search team looking for the bodies of victims in the Tungabhadra on Tuesday.  

Girish Pattanashetti and M. Ahiraj

Joint search operation comes to an end by Tuesday afternoon

VittalapurA: Resuming the joint search operation on Tuesday morning, the Gadag and Bellary district administrations and the Police Department, with the help of local swimmers, recovered the bodies of all the eight victims who drowned in the Tungabhadra at Vittalapura village in Mundargi taluk of Gadag district on Monday.

The search began at 6 a.m. and ended at around 1.30 p.m..

Two motorboats and around six coracles (country boats) were used in the search. The residents of nearby villages witnessed the search operation that went on for more than seven hours, while the grieving relatives of the victims Assistant Commissioner of Gadag district D. Ranadeep told The Hindu that there were 13 persons in the two coracles that had left Magal towards Vittalapura on Monday. Of them, five swam to safety. The bodies of three women and a one-year-old child, all belonging to the same family in K. Ayyanahalli in Hadagali taluk in Bellary district, were among the eight bodies fished out from the river Tungabhadra on Tuesday.

The bodies of two victims were recovered on Monday. Four of the bodies recovered on Tuesday belonged to one family, including a one-year-old boy.

Victims

The Assistant Commisssioner gave the names of the victims as Basappa Yallappa Kambali (45) of Tolali in Shirahatti taluk; Hanumantappa Talawar (46) of Davangere and Gurubasappa Madivalar of Hebbala in Davangere district; Pavitra Maheshappa Halli (22) of Bagewadi and Shantamma Mariyappa Halli of Jalawadagi in Mundaragi taluk; Mallesh M. Halli (1) and Parvatevva Gudleppa Halli of Ainalli in Huvinahadagali taluk; and Jamalsab M. Pinjar of Sasalwad in Shirahatti taluk.

Shortly after the bodies were recovered and handed over to the relatives, the district administration handed over a compensation of Rs. 1 lakh to the family of the victims. Deputy Commissioner of Gadag N.V. Prasad handed over the compensation cheques.

Monday’s tragic accident has brought into focus the dire need of a bridge linking Magal village of Huvinahadagali in Bellary district with Vittalapur of Mundargi taluk in Gadag district.

The proposal to construct a hanging bridge, which was mooted during the Janata Dal regime (1994-99), had remained only on paper. This had forced the local people to depend on the boats/coracles to cross the river for their daily business. “People on either side of the river have social, cultural, religious and business links. To reach the other end, people from either side have to take a circuitous route and it is costly.

Reaching Vittalapura by crossing the river, though risky, is quick and cost effective. Seeing the preference of the local people, the Department of Inland Fisheries introduced mechanised boats to avoid the risk of coracles,” Igol Chidanandappa, member of Hadagali Taluk Panchayat told The Hindu.

As the mechanised boat was under repair for the past three days, the coracles were used by the local fishermen.

Mr. Chidanandappa underlined the need for the Government to initiate steps to find a permanent solution to the chronic problem.

Minister’s assurance

Tourism Minister G. Janardhan Reddy, who is also the district in-charge Minister, visited the accident spot to console the families of the bereaved and to distribute the compensation to them. He assured the people that steps would be taken to construct a footbridge.

He instructed the officials of the Public Works Department to immediately prepare the plan and estimates and submit the same.

“I have already spoken to the Chief Minister about the proposal and I am confident of getting the approval and required funds for construction of the bridge,” he said.