October 5, 2017
Kochi: Tourists taking a boat ride in Kerala face a risk if they do not wear safety jackets which are mandatory though as a rule generally flouted. The State has witnessed many boat mishaps claiming several lives, mostly because of non-adherence to safety norms.
Kochi backwaters has always fascinated tourists visiting the city. Most of the small and medium-sized boats are operated by private parties and the crew often finds it time-consuming to make each tourist wear the safety gear.
According to a boat operator, the tourists are not keen on wearing them. It is mainly women who avoid wearing the life jacket. It is tough to convince them, he says. “We have life jacket readily available for all the tourists on the boat. There are people who demand it and we give it to them,” he added.
Tourists from abroad stay away from wearing the jackets saying they are ‘filthy and unhygienic as they are not cleaned regularly’.
A local trader said it is the duty of the inland navigation department, the local body and the police to conduct surprise inspections and ensure the cleanliness of the jackets.
Tourists visiting Fort Kochi, Mattancherry, Marine Drive and similar places get the boating facility.
The boat tragedy at Thekkady in September 2009 claimed 45 lives. The victims were mainly from Kolkata and New Delhi.