High-level meet on safety steps

Special Correspondent

Decision on boat service at Thekkady will be taken at the meet tomorrow.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The government has convened a high level conference on Monday to discuss measures to be taken to ensure safety of tourists against the background of the boat tragedy at Thekkady.

Minister for Home Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran, Minister for Forests Benoy Viswom and higher officials would attend the meet. The boat services at Thekkady would be resumed only after consultations at the conference.

Chairman of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) Cheriyan Philip said here on Saturday that the Corporation would take stringent steps to ensure the safety of tourists travelling in its boats. Though all the KTDC boats running at Thekkady, Malampuzha, Kochi, Kumarakom and Veli had current fitness certificates, their fitness would be rechecked by maritime experts. Though its drivers possessed licences, they would be subjected to fresh driving tests. The Corporation would also ensure that they had the required qualification to operate fibre and speed boats. The capacity of the boats would be re-evaluated.

Mr. Philip said all boats of KTDC would carry sufficient number of life jackets and buoys. Wearing of life jackets by the tourists would be insisted upon while travelling on boats. Special training would be given to aides in boats to take precautionary steps in case of an emergency.

Mr. Philip said the KTDC had suspended the driver, Victor Samuel, and the laskar, Aneesh, of the ill-fated boat ‘Jalakanyaka’ from service, pending inquiry. Managing Director of the Corporation K.G. Mohanlal, who is in Thekkady, would conduct a detailed inquiry into the accident. The findings of the inquiry would be handed over to the Crime Branch which is investigating the case.