BHUBANESWAR: THE Chilika boat tragedy has woken up the State Government out of its slumber to amend the Odisha Boat Rule, 2004. This amendment would mean all registered boats and passengers will be under insurance coverage.
At a review meeting here, it was informed that Collectors are vested with power to streamline boat service in inland waters and enforcement squads have also been constituted. The Collectors have been asked to survey the boats in service, their registration status and get the unregistered ones to the book. The mechanical engineers in districts would lead the surveyor teams for the purpose.
Commerce and Transport Minister Ramesh Majhi, who took stock of the situation with Secretary Sanjay Rastogi, said the enforcement measures would help tighten safety aspects of passengers. According to reports, there are 2,449 boats and ferries which are operational in 747 ghats across 135 water bodies. Of these, 1,772 are registered.
To improve safety of travellers, the State Government has sanctioned ` one crore for procurement of 550 tubes, 2,750 life jackets and 110 fire extinguishers meant for 110 boats though the total budget is estimated at `16 crore. In the first phase, boats operating in Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Puri, Khurda, Sambalpur and Bargarh will get the safety equipment before registered boats in other areas are covered. The department has also made it mandatory to maintain a toll free number at all ghats. Passengers’ rights would also be displayed prominently.