BHADRAK:The Chilika boat mishap that claimed four lives on Saturday has brought to fore the lack of safety measures in boats plying in the district. Thousands of people depend on country and motor boats for communication and transportation of their goods in the absence of bridges on rivers like Baitrani, Salandi and its tributaries in many places of the district.
Nearly 250 country boats and motor boats sail through 76 anchorages in the district. Of this, 74 anchorages in the rivers have been opened illegally.
According to reports of district revenue office, there are 47 anchorages in Chandbali and Dhamara where above 150 motor boats and country boats ply. The boatmen have no licence and if fitness certificates of their boats are taken into consideration, then they are not eligible to sail for transportation and communication purposes.
Earlier in May this year, the State Government had implemented the rule that all boatmen need to have licence and fitness certificates of their boats. However, the norms are being flouted with impunity. Sources said only 54 boatmen have licence, but the fitness certificates of their boats are yet to be verified.
Many country boats are without fitness certificates and overloading of passengers is a common affair. In the last eight years, there have been 18 incidents of boat capsize, according to the District Emergency Office (DEO) reports.
DEO sources said a workshop on the rules and regulations of boatman licence and fitness certificate was held two years back in Collector’s conference hall here. It was then decided the boatmen should first obtain the fitness certificate of their boats and then licence will given for sailing. Every boat should have at least three helpers. However, all these norms are being flouted, alleged Susanta Mohapatra, a social activist.
Additional District Magistrate, Pravat Kumar Bhoi said boats sailing through the different ghats are under the administration of local tehsildars. He added that a survey regarding fitness certificates and licence will be carried out soon.