PUTHENVELIKKARA:The wanton disregard for safety rules on the part of the ferry operators pose a major threat to the lives of hundred of school students, who mostly rely on the ferry service to cross the Periyar from Valiya Pazhampilly Thuruth to schools in Puthenvelikkara and Mala. Though the ferry service was restricted to passengers and two wheelers, the operators allowed bigger vehicles on board.
According to Suneesh, a native of Valiya Pazhampilly Thuruth, the ferry was too small to carry cars. “Earlier there was a boat service connecting the two river banks. The ferry service started operating from 2011. Considering the capacity of the ferry, only two-wheelers were permitted. But in order to earn more money, the operators permitted autorickshaws, cars and even tempos on board. Though the panchayat authorities knew about the violation, they didn’t take any action,” he said.Several local residents said they still could not figure out how such a poorly maintained ferry got the fitness certificate from the Department of Ports.
“The ferry is in such a terrible condition that it can hardly be operated. The platform on the ferry is not proper. There are no proper safety measures. Every day hundreds of people are depending on the ferry service,” Darwin Puthenvelikkara said.