ANDHRA PRADESH

A risky ride on Godavari

B.V.S. Bhaskar

Rajahmundry: Boat tragedy in which three advocates were killed has exposed the lapses in safety and security of the passengers boat ride on the river Godavari. The Tourism Department, private operators, Irrigation Department and organisers of package tours have miserably failed in meeting their expectations, be it operating boats, provision of facilities in house boats and in ensuring safety. Papikondalu, known as the destination for nature lovers, are turning out to be a place ridden with risks.

A boat ride on the Godavari, which flows in between the two majestic hills, is undoubtedly enchanting. For, it is at this place the river flows from Chhattisgarh.

With the State government announcing the construction of the Polavaram dam at this spot, it is believed that the two hills will disappear. In view of this a large number of people from Andhra Pradesh and also from neighbouring states have been visiting the place.

However, there are several risk factors involved in the 70-km voyage. They include impropermaintenance of boats, no provision of life jackets, absence of expert swimmers, lack of guidance on water levels and poor quality of food and entertainment.

There have been a number of incidents wherein visitors were stranded in the middle of the river, spending the whole night in a boat. Some 60 doctors, who attended a conference, were trapped in the middle of the river recently. They had to call ‘108’ service to save themselves from the agony.

A woman, leading an MNC, was stuck in the river as her boat broke down at Papikondalu.

“There are no facilities. The risk factor is more. No professionalism in the operation of boats. Women and aged persons are worst sufferers. It is the worst voyage ever I’ve seen,” says Srinivasa Rao, government pleader.