RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM/VIJAYAWADA: Full-fledged boating operations to Papikondalu in East Godavari and Bhavani Island in Vijayawada finally kicked off on Sunday. Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao formally launched the services at Gandi Pochamma ferry point in Devipatnam mandal of East Godavari two years after boating to the famous Papi Hills was stopped due to a boat mishap on the Godavari on September 15, 2019.
In Vijayawada, the public thronged Berm Park on the banks of Krishna river to enjoy a boat ride to Bhavani Island on the first Sunday of the auspicious Karthika Masam. The boating operations on the river were halted three months ago due to heavy inflows to the Krishna. APTDC officials said five boats are allowed to operate to the Island from 9 am to 5 pm every day.
As many as 80 tourists in two APTDC boats—Haritha and Sir Arthur Cotton—hitched a ride to Papikondalu and returned to Gandi Pochamma successfully on the first day. Srinivasa Rao said top priority has been given to safety measures on the boats. “A total of 11 tourist boats have been granted permission for operations on the river. Four boats will operate from Pochavaram in Kunavaram mandal while eight others from Gandi Pochamma ferry point.”
As part of the security measures, the APTDC has set up command control rooms at Rajamahendravaram irrigation circle, Gandipochamma and Pochavaram in East Godavari, and Perantllapalli in West Godavari. The Pochavaram point is useful for tourists from Telangana.“Tourists can reach Pochavaram from Bhadrachalam by road, which usually takes 90 minutes. The boats have been equipped with GPS and satellite phones, which can be used in the absence of phone signals,” the minister added.
Rampachodavaram ASP Krishnakanth Patel told TNIE that every tourist must wear a life jacket, and luggage will be checked thoroughly for alcohol by the police as liquor consumption is not allowed on the boats. “Every tourist boat will be accompanied by a pilot boat to track dangerous spots and sand heaps in the river. Divers and launch drivers would be in the pilot boats to guide the tourist boats to the destination,” he added.Only licensed drivers will be allowed to operate the boats when the flood discharge from the Cotton Barrage is under three lakh cusecs, the official said.
Reservations for the ride to Papikondalu can be done at the APTDC website and offices. Every day, a mini bus will ply from Rajamahendravaram tourist office at Padmavathi Ghat at 7 am and reach Gandi Pochamma ferry point at 8.30 am. The boat ride will start at 9 am and reach Papikondalu by 12.30-1 pm.
Earlier, the tourism minister and MLA Dhana lakshmi offered prayers at Gandi Pochamma temple and flagged off the boating service to Papikondalu.
Floating restaurant inaugurated
Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao inaugurated a floating restaurant, established at Rs 70 lakh at Padmavathi Ghat in Rajamahendravaram, on Sunday and added Pichuka Lanka development will be done in public private partnership mode