RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Thirty-five-year old T Posamma, an ASHA worker from K Gonduru village in East Godavari district, shivered with terror recalling the boat accident that occurred on Tuesday evening. She was one of the lucky survivors.
She said when the boat left Devipatnam village and stopped at Mulapadu village, the weather turned ominous and all the passengers asked the driver Khaja to terminate the journey. “However, he was adamant to go ahead, stating he saw several such gales. When the rain started lashing the board, several passengers on the upper deck moved to the lower deck, which was shut tight to prevent rainwater from entering as there were several cement bags,” she explained.
When the boat capsized and started sinking, Posamma and a few others managed to jump into water. “I somehow managed to swim to the bank on the Mantur side,” she said and wished she would never again experience such a thing.
N Lakshman Rao of Kachleru village in Devipatnam mandal said when they left Devipatnam for Kondamodalu, the climate was good, but suddenly turned bad when they arrived at Mulapadu. “We thought it would be dangerous to proceed in that horrible weather and requested the boat driver to stop, but he did not listen.
All of a sudden, the boat, which was overloaded with cement bags, tilted and capsized,” he said.
Rao, who was standing near the boat cabin, jumped along with others and swam to the river bank on Vadapalli side.
The bank was some 70 meters from the accident spot. There was a 14-year old girl Sirisha, who managed to survive by holding onto a refrigerator, that fell from the boat. As the refrigerator was packed in thermocol sheets, it stayed afloat. Holding it, Sirisha swam to the river bank and was rescued by others. She was reportedly admitted to hospital in Rajamahendravaram. The refrigerator was purchased by a victims at Polavaram weekly market.
Lakshmaiah, 30, another survivor, saw a heap of life-jackets thrown aside in the boat. “I grabbed one and jumped into the river. Though I am a good swimmer, at that time I was overcome with fear and lost all hopes of surviving. I was not in a position to think about saving others. Though I feel bad, at that time saving myself was only on my mind,” he said.
Forty-five-year-old Pattam Ganesh from K Gonduru said the boat tragedy of Tuesday was the worst nightmare of his life. “I lost all my hope when I jumped off the boat. I feel lucky, I survived,” he said and blamed the greed of the boat owner for the tragedy. He said as there was no proper road network connecting several villages dotting the banks of the river on both sides, people of those villages, who are mostly tribals, have to depend on boats for transportation. “Even for medical treatment, purchasing essential commodities, we have to depend on a boat for transport,” he said.
It’s murder by the government, alleges jagan
Vijayawada:Describing the deaths in the boat tragedy on Godavari river at Manturu village of Devipatnam mandal in East Godavari district as ‘sarkari hatyalu’ (murders by the government), Leader of Opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy held Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu responsible for the mishap. He demanded that a case be registered against the Chief Minister and an inquiry be conducted. The government should pay a compensation of H25 lakh to the families of each victim, he added.
Speaking to mediapersons at Rama Rao Gudem in West Godavari district during his Praja Sankalpa Yatra, Jaganmohan Reddy said it was because of sheer negligence on part of the State government that the tragedy occurred. “If the State government has not allowed operation of unlicensed boats on the river, the tragedy would not have happened.” “The government’s indifference has led to the three boat mishaps in a space of six months,”he said.