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Safety fiat for state boat hubs

State tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty has read out the riot act to deputy commissioners (DCs) and superintendents of police (SPs), directing them to put up precaution boards near lakes, ponds, dams, rivers and every other place offering boat rides without delay.

The move on Wednesday follows Sunday’s boat capsize in Ranchi Lake that left four people, including a three-year-old, dead.

Chakraborty himself had a miraculous escape in the mishap, which is being blamed on the negligence of Chatterjee International, the firm picked up by Ranchi Municipal Corporation to run the joyride in Bada Talab.

The agency flouted every rule in the book to allow 17 persons, including seven children, to ride a speedboat with the capacity to carry 10.

In an attempt to plug such gaping holes in recreational safety protocols, Chakraborty issued a list of dos and don’ts.

The directive says that emergency contact numbers and the capacity of a boat should be written on the vessel, while all persons on board must wear life vests.

Acknowledging that a majority of the speedboat drivers were ill-trained, the tourism secretary has further decided to send a group of youths from Giridih to the National Institute of Water Sports in Goa for motorboat training.

These youths, who already operate boats in Khandoli reservoir in that district, will in turn train other boatmen in Jharkhand.

“In our state, the level of proficiency for driving a motorboat is restricted to practical experience. Some theoretical knowledge on how to operate a powered boat safely needs to be provided urgently. Untrained boatmen may cause untoward incidents,” he said.

The onset of winter has triggered the annual picnic season in Jharkhand. The tourism secretary said he, therefore, was leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety of thrill junkies.

Specific instructions have been given to SPs to also deploy women constables at all hot spots in the state to keep eve-teasers at bay.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey confirmed that he had received the orders from Chakraborty.

“We are working on the directives issued by the tourism secretary. Our priority is to ensure the safety and security of winter revellers,” he said.

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