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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Gujarat boat tragedy: Manager of recreation zone, two others held for culpable homicide

The Gujarat government has already ordered a high-level probe into the incident and directed the Vadodara district collector to submit the inquiry report within 10 days

PTI Vadodara Published 19.01.24, 03:05 PM
People gather during a rescue and search operation after a boat overturned in a lake, in Vadodara.

People gather during a rescue and search operation after a boat overturned in a lake, in Vadodara. PTI picture.

The Gujarat police have arrested three persons for culpable homicide not amounting to murder in connection with the boat tragedy near Vadodara that killed 12 students and two teachers, an official said on Friday.

Eighteen students and two teachers were rescued from the boat capsize in Harni lake on the outskirts of Vadodara city on Thursday. The students were on a picnic at the time.

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The tragedy had prompted the police to register an FIR under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code against 18 persons, including the partners of Kotia Projects, which was given the contract to run Harni Lake Zone by the civic body.

“We have already arrested the manager of the Harni Lake Zone, Shantilal Solanki, and two boat operators – Nayan Gohil and Ankit. Efforts are on to nab other culprits. Twelve school students and 2 women teachers have lost their lives in the incident. Rescue operation in the lake ended on Thursday night,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Panna Momaya.

Meanwhile, some of the families performed the last rites of their children, who died in the boat tragedy, late on Thursday night with teary eyes.

As per the FIR, Kotia Projects was given the contract to operate and maintain Harni Lake Zone, a recreation hub, in 2017 by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).

In his complaint, VMC engineer Rajesh Chauhan said the firm, its owners, managers and boat operators indulged in criminal negligence on several counts, be it non-maintenance of boats or not keeping adequate number of life-saving equipment and life jackets.

It was also revealed that only a few students were given life jackets and no instructions were given to them, as per the complaint.

Earlier, Gujarat Minister of State for Home Sanghavi had told reporters that only 10 students on board were wearing life jackets. "It proves organisers were at fault," he had said.

Due to overload, the FIR said, the boat first started swaying and then capsized following water ingress from the front side.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel had visited the site late on Thursday evening and toured Janvi Hospital and state-run SSG Hospital to meet survivors and kin of the deceased.

Patel also monitored the rescue operation that was being carried out by personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other agencies, including the local fire brigade.

In a message on social media platform X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Distressed by the loss of lives to a boat capsizing at the Harni lake in Vadodara. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. May the injured recover soon.” “The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. The injured would be given Rs 50,000,” the PM further said.

The Gujarat government has already ordered a high-level probe into the incident and directed the Vadodara district collector to submit the inquiry report within 10 days.

A notification issued by the state home department on Thursday night said the collector has been directed to conduct a detailed inquiry on reasons and circumstances which led to the tragedy, whether there was any negligence on the part of the contractor or any official and how such incidents can be avoided in the future.

Gujarat chief minister announced compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those who have died and Rs 50,000 to the injured.

Gujarat Education Minister Kuber Dindor said a probe has been ordered after he learnt the boat was carrying more persons than the stipulated number.

“I have also learnt students were not wearing life jackets at the time of the accident. We will take action against those found guilty (of these lapses),” Dindor said.

A preliminary probe by authorities also revealed the boat, which was pulled out from the muddy waters, had only 14 seats, nearly half of the number of persons it was carrying at the time of incident, officials said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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