VIJAYAWADA: The police on Tuesday arrested Sesham Moda Kondala Rao, owner of the River Boating and Adventure Partners Pvt Ltd, whose boat capsized at the Pavithra Sangamam at Ibrahimpatnam in river Krishna on Sunday, killing 21 passengers. He is the second one to be arrested.
Earlier on Monday, Gedela Srinivasa Rao, a boat driver of the tourism department and one of the partners of the company, was arrested. He has since been dismissed from service by the department.
In all, the police had filed a criminal case under Section 304 II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) against Sesham Moda Kondala Rao, Neelam Sesha Giri Rao, Vinjamuri Vijaya Saradhi, Gedela Srinivasa Rao and Chitti.
Before his arrest, Kondala Rao, who was thought to be absconding, gave an interview to a TV channel in which he claimed that the company was registered in his name but that Srinivasa Rao and his friends were its real owners. He also claimed that he had merely helped them.
Meanwhile, state tourism minister Bhuma Akhila Priya held a meeting with the boat operators'association at the Secretariat.
Later briefing the media, she announced that licenses of all the boat operators in the state were canceled and said the government would shortly come up with a new policy to give licenses under a single window system.
The boat operators informed her that there was confusion regarding permissions with no one knowing exactly who to approach.
"We will come up with a new policy that will take into account all these aspects. We will have a single window system to issue licenses. Similarly, we will involve district collectors and other officials and form a committee to ensure that boat operators strictly adhere to safety norms," Akhila said, adding that she would discuss the new policy contours with Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and request him to expedite the process of implementing the policy.