Safety First for Tourists on Boat Rides - The New Indian Express

Safety First for Tourists on Boat Rides

Published: 29th January 2014 07:29 AM

Last Updated: 29th January 2014 10:05 AM

The recent boat capsize in Andaman and Nicobar Islands that resulted in the death of 21 persons has brought the spotlight on the safety measures followed in many boat houses around the city.

The one in Muttukadu Lake, a tourist attraction that offers boat rides, seems to follow strict norms when it comes to the safety of their visitors. 

The boat house that is located 30 kilometres away from the city and comes under the control of the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), makes it a point that every person, who pays for a ride, enters the boat wearing a life jacket.

“We have over 385 life jackets and can cater to 200 people at the same time. We have life jackets for even a one-year-old baby,” an official at the boat house said.

The popular attraction, which was inaugurated in the early 80s, sees about 30,000 to 40,000 tourists every month. At present, the spot offers joy rides only on boats specially designed by the Indian Institute of Technology.

Tourism officials said the body of each of the 24 motorised boats had polyethylene foam to make them float even if water seeps in.

“We have life savers equipped with binoculars always on patrol. Every boat has  lifebuoys that can save four people at the same time, in case they accidentally fall off the boat. The boatmen are also trained to give first aid. Also the depth is only between three and five feet and we don’t take the tourists beyond 1.5 kilometres in the water. The capacity limit is strictly followed for every boat. We don’t overload,” the official explained.

While there are high-speed water scooters, visitors are not allowed to operate them on their own and row boats too, are handled only by boatmen, who are mostly local fishermen. Pedal boat rides were stopped in Muttukadu, as earlier officials faced lots of problems when visitors got stuck with the boats in shallow depths. Similar safety measures are strictly followed at the boat house in Mudaliyarkuppam that also offers boat rides for tourists.

Though safety is given top priority, some tourists, who regularly visit the boat houses, pointed out that life jackets had been made mandatory only after the boat accident in Thekkady in 2009. “Earlier, life jackets were not given any importance here. It is only after the Thekkady accident that they are become strict about it,” said Gunasekaran, a marine engineer from Tondiarpet, who regularly visits Muttukadu boat house with his family.

Police conduct regular patrols on the road near the lake and deploy extra personnel during festival days, when there is huge crowd.

The only other place other than Muttukadu that tourists used to throng for joy rides was the Pulicat lake.

Local fishermen were once making money by taking tourists on rides in their fishing boats. However, this was  banned in 2011, after a boat capsized killing 22 persons, including 21 from the same family on Christmas Day.

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