BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has ordered an inquiry into the boat tragedy in Chilika on Saturday in which four picnickers drowned.
Minister of State for Commerce and Transport Ramesh Majhi said Director, Ports and Inland Water Transport, has been asked to inquire whether the boat in which 31 people were travelling was a fishing boat or a passenger boat.
Majhi said the Director has been asked to ascertain whether the boat was registered and had licence. Besides, he was also asked to find out whether the boat had all safety measures to carry passengers and submit report within three days.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) P Krishnamohan, who visited the spot on Sunday, said that the boat, which had a maximum capacity to carry 10-12 passengers, carried more people on it.
Rambha police has seized the fishing boat. Police had registered a case against boat owner Dutia Mallick and boatman Hatia Mallick under Section 280 and 304 of IPC on Saturday for ferrying passengers in the fishing boat.
After the boat mishap in Chilika Lake, safety features in the country’s largest brackish water lagoon has come into the focus. Besides tourist boats, a large number of fishing boats operate from lakeside villages to ferry visitors to exotic locations inside the lagoon.
Such boats operate from jetties like Sabulia, Rambha, Barkul, Balugaon and Satapada. Around 1,200 tourist boats operate in the vast waterbodyfrom different lakeside corners of Chilika in Ganjam district.
The Government had ordered a crackdown on boats operating sans safety clearances after the boat tragedy in Hirakud in February 2014 had claimed 24 lives. Operation of boats without valid licence and ferrying people without life jackets had been declared illegal by the Government.
“The motorised boat that sank on Saturday was meant for fishing and not to carry tourists or passengers. We will soon launch a crackdown on fishing boats carrying passengers,” said Ganjam District Collector Prem Chandra Chaudhary. (With Agency inputs)