Society running tourist spot under scanner

Krang Shuri tragedy

JOWAI/SHILLONG: There was sheer carelessness on the part of those who manned the boat at Krang Shuri, West Jaintia Hills which resulted in the drowning of the young girl from Rilbong on Thursday even as the district administration ration admitted that no permission was taken by organisation running the tourist spot to make shaky bamboo rafts without any safeguards.
The body of the accident victim was cremated on Friday.
A day after the tragic incident, the type of boats being used at Krang Shuri lake without proper official sanction has come under scanner.
Questions have emerged from various quarters as to whether the authorities should allow such unsafe tourist recreation in the form of boat (raft) made of mere bamboo and thermocol.
Eye witnesses said that safety aspects were neglected by those who operated the boat as no life jackets were provided to the tourists.
Opinions have come to the fore that the fatal accident could have been avoided if those people who manned the boat had taken safety measures. The casualty was a result of gross negligence and indifference.
An official source said that Raid Amwi Tourism Promotion Society which operates the boats, was thinking of buying life jackets only recently, but did not purchase the same in time putting the life of the tourists at risk.
Boat was on trial
Curiously, the recently introduced boat was on trial just for one week and the West Jaintia Hills administration which developed the site was in the dark about the nature of boats being used by the private party unlike Shnong Pdeng which is managed with the guidance of the district administration.
There are emerging suggestions that the district administration should register the boats operating in the tourist spots and take those who man them responsible in case of any fatal incident.
When contacted, Additional SP of West Jaintia Hills, Chemphang Cyrti informed that the police registered an unnatural death case, and the matter is under investigation, but no arrest has been made.
No permission sought from dist admin
Outgoing West Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner, Arun Khembhavi said that Raid Amwi Tourism Promotion Society never took permission from the District Administration to make bamboo rafts to ferry tourists.
He also said that the district administration had in December sanctioned Rs 2 lakh for the Society to buy necessary equipment including safety jackets.
“We came to know that the owner was in Shillong yesterday (Thursday) to buy the safety jackets and other stuff with money sanctioned for them,” he said.
The Deputy Commissioner said that though there is no law which makes it mandatory for the boats to be registered with the government, now the District Administration has made it mandatory for all the parties running the tourist spots to give a list of their activities to the Administration.
Dist admin says cant take action against society
He further said that the district administration cannot take action against the Society, but the management of the Society has been show caused even as he added that the family should have understood the risk before taking a ride in the bamboo raft.
CSWO for filing of case of negligence
However, CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing has taken exception to the stand of the district administration for not taking action against the operators instead of blaming the family.
“The relatives should file a case of negligence against the district administration and those who operate the boats,” she said.
Kharshiing wanted to know why there was delay in the purchase of necessary equipment like life jackets before commissioning the boats.
“The Deputy Commissioner should have asked for utilisation certificates from those who man the tourist spot and this shows that there was collective negligence,” she added.
Chairman of the Meghalaya Tourism Development Forum, RG Lyngdoh said that the unfortunate incident could have been avoided if capacity building measures had been taken seriously.
Stating that more and more people will now come into tourism due to its huge potential in the State, he said that responsible tourism should be the key factor for all tourist related activities.
“We can’t allow people to learn from experience and there should be capacity building measures,” he said, and added that there should be a protocol of what is responsible tourism in the State where all measures are taken for safety of tourists as well as the tourist spots.

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