Post boat tragedy, Andamans proposes stringent norms
Port Blair: In the aftermath of the boat mishap that claimed 21 lives off Port Blair, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration has proposed a slew of safety guidelines to ensure safety of tourists, including SOS kiosks at jetties and pre-paid ticketing system.
"We are proposing SOS kiosks in jetties so that any information on mishaps can be attended to immediately. We intend to introduce prepaid ticketing system for boat rides so that last minute inclusion of passengers can be avoided," Lieutenant Governor Ajay Kumar Singh told reporters here.
Holding the "operator`s carelessness and greed" responsible for the January 26 mishap, the Lt Gen (retd) said an enquiry was on into the accident, based on which action would be taken against those responsible.
"We were earlier looking into safety aspects in all 74 ships being operated here but now we are looking into all boats, their operators, scuba diving and other adventure activities to check if all activities have necessary safety parameters in place," Singh told reporters at Raj Niwas here.
While boats needed to be checked for seaworthiness, its crew should be trained for their skills, he said.
"We also plan to create an enforcement agency, which will involve the Andaman Police and tourist department officials, who will regulate tourist traffic in and out of boats," he said.
To a query on the status of boat traffic, suspended in the Islands post the accident, he said all boats are being tested for seaworthiness and those of operators who have not complied with rules would be impounded.
Boat traffic to Ross Island and other Islands would resume within a day or so. Traffic to Havelock has started already, he said.
On the status of his administration`s proposal, he said, "I have given my directions to the Director, Tourism Department for the prepaid concept. He will talk to stakeholders now. We are hoping to lay down standard rates. The motto will be tourist-friendly with safety being the top priority."
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