Andhra Pradesh

Five Fatal Mistakes on the swollen Godavari

A preliminary inquiry has pointed to five fatal mistakes the authorities and the tourists on board the ill-fated Royal Vashistha made, leading to a watery grave for many in the Godavari. 

Mistake Number 1 : Tourists removed life jackets

Many tourists removed their life jackets because it was hot. Others removed it in order to take part in a cultural show on board the boat. Some removed it in order to look better in the selfies and photographs they clicked. In the bargain, they lost the only lifeline they possibly had. 

Mistake Number 2 : Boat had no permission to ply

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism minister M Srinivasa Rao has said that Royal Vashishta did not have permission to ply either from the Tourism or the Irrigation department. According to local media reports, the boat owners have told the East Godavari police that they had permission from Kakinada port authorities. If true, it is strange that a port authority should give permission to a tourism boat. 

Mistake Number 3 : Flood warning violated

The Water Resources department of the Andhra Pradesh government had issued a second flood warning for the Godavari river last week, specifically pointing to the Devipatnam mandal. Officials at the Dowleswaram barrage in Rajahmundry say they have not allowed any vessel, including fishing boats to operate in the Godavari for the past one month. The question then arises why didn’t any official stop the tourist boat from getting into the water.

The current at the spot where the accident occurred is also very strong and the river is particularly rough in this patch. Kachuluru is also known to be prone to accidents. The need was to be more vigilant, with a trained rescue team on board to take care of any eventuality. 

Mistake Number 4 : Imbalance on the boat and no safety mechanism

Without much thought, passengers were allowed to move from one deck to the other, without thinking of the balance of the boat. According to a survivor, at around 1:30 pm after lunch when the boat was moving towards Perantapalli, close to 20 passengers went to the first floor and that is when the boat started tilting. That created a panic as tourists scampered to wear life jackets causing more turbulence on board. Water began to enter the boat at this stage.

Mistake Number 5 : Andhra Pradesh government showed little concern

After a series of boat mishaps in 2017 and 2018 on the Krishna and Godavari rivers, the then Chandrababu Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh mooted setting up an Inland Water Transport Regulatory authority. It was to streamline water transport activity and do away with multiple authorities accorded permission giving authority. But the plan has been stuck in red tape. 

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