De-boarding at Lingalagattu in Srisailam is without a landing jetty
The six-hour cruise travel at 20-km per hour on the Krishna from Nagarjunasagar to Srisailam, and back is a safe and memorable experience. But safety lapses and man-made mistakes on board can turn that into an indelible one.
From unlocked guardrails to lack of safety briefing, including on equipment, to dangerous selfies, overcrowding, and consumption of alcohol on board - safety seems to be taking the second seat.
The popular road-cum-river cruises by Andhra Pradesh and the Telangana Tourism Development Corporations on Wednesdays and Saturdays have been drawing hordes of tourists since its start on November 1.
The crew on board includes eight members – two drivers, five expert swimmers, a mechanic and other helping staff. However, a cruise director and guide in full role are not present on several occasions.
Trained at the State Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kakinada, the boat drivers of the launches -- Phalguni (Telangana) and ML Agasthya (A.P) -- say there was never any glitch in the cruises till date. “Fishing nets beneath which would get entangled in the propeller can be avoided by using a bamboo pole - part of the equipment, and also by slowing down the boat, they say.
However, risks on board are many. The guardrails on Phalguni remain unlocked, and a simple gate-opening would pose great danger, even as children walk unattended, and dangerous selfies, hanging and sitting on the railings continue till the destination.
According to a representative from A.P. Tourism, ML Agasthya, the oldest 100-seater is fitted with a first-aid kit, like Phalguni. But it is not air-conditioned, and more members sit in the upper deck.
"Since the lower deck has viewing windows above the head, and adding to it, the loud engine room noise discourages tourists to sit here. As a result, more chairs and crowd are on the upper deck," he explains.
Although the crew staff bans alcohol on the boat, several tourists continue to enjoy their drink.
With no safety information announced, on or off the board, the few life jackets clipped onto guardrails often become part of one’s selfie outfit. No other flotation devices are available.
De-boarding at Lingalagattu, the nearly 20 feet deep water point, in Srisailam is also without a landing jetty.
A few members suggested that the board should avoid middlemen including mutawallis and collect rents directly.
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