Guj boat tragedy: Contract of firm operating lakefront recreation zone terminated
VADODARA: The contract of a firm operating the recreation zone of a lake in Vadodara in Gujarat in which a boat capsized a couple of days ago killing 12 students and two teachers has been cancelled by the local civic body, an official said on Saturday.
The boat, carrying students and teachers on a picnic, capsized on Thursday afternoon in Motnath lake in the Harni area, with subsequent probes showing the vessel was overloaded and the service operator had not made provisions for enough life jackets.
The contract of Kotia Projects, the firm which developed, operated and maintained the lakefront for recreational purposes, has been terminated by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), the civic body's standing committee chairperson Sheetal Mistry said.
"The lakefront was developed under the PPP model and the firm had to pay Rs 3,01,111 annually to VMC. The contract was terminated by the municipal commissioner due to breach of conditions. The premises has been sealed. The lease period was for 30 years," Mistry said.
Motnath lake is spread over an area of 55,164 square metres and the contract was given in 2017 and development works were completed in 2019, Mistry said.
The work proposal, a copy of which is with PTI, included deployment of pedal and mechanised boats, as well as creation of a 42-square metre jetty and keeping lifeguards and rescue vessels.
The proposal also stressed on the availability of life guards and life jackets for those opting for boat rides. Incidentally, the FIR in Thursday incident noted that most children on board had not worn life jackets.
"Sense of security brings in more pleasure. The boating in the lake is very relaxing but at times it brings disaster without notice. The first precaution is in the form of compulsory life jackets for all sailors and the second line of safety is handled by trained and well-equipped life guards," it said.
The land was leased to the private contractor for a sum of Re 1 per annum with no other deposits to be paid to the civic body, which had also waived municipal taxes, officials said.
Apart from boating facilities, the contract included building of jogging track, children's play area, sitting area, fun rides, amphitheatre, multi-purpose hall, installation of decorative lighting, all at an investment of Rs 7.43 crore, officials added.