Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered on Monday a high-level probe into the Bhopal’s Lower Lake boat accident that left five youths dead. The CM also announced a financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh each for the kin of the dead. He asked officials to frame guidelines to prevent recurrence of such accidents.
Ten youths had reportedly gone to the Kamlapati Ghat-side to booze on Sunday when their boat capsized in the middle of the lake. Five of them swam to safety while five others drowned.
Waking up to the incident, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation seized 23 illegal boats operating on the Lower Lake sans licenses for fishing or boating. The corporation also announced that it will launch a crack down on boats operating illegally on both the Upper and Lower Lakes.
“The boat was brought by one of the 10 youths from his relatives’ house. We have always prohibited people from doing any activity on the Lower Lake and from now on we will also check that only those boats which have our permission operate there,” said BMC public relations officer Premshankar Shukla.
Meanwhile, municipal commissioner Tejaswi Naik said the boats were seized because more people were going to the lake to create nuisance.
“We seized the boats from the lake to prevent any other person from taking it to the lake at night which could lead to another such incident,” Naik said, adding there was no process of giving license to the boats to enter the lakes.
‘We are victim of BMC, media witch-hunt’
The civic body’s action, however, did not go down well with the boatmen who accused the BMC and the media of portraying them as villains.
“The BMC officials and the media are portraying us as villains. We just go to the lake for fishing during the day and tie them up on the banks at night,” said a fisherman without wishing to be named. He said the youths took the boat after untying it from the bank without the knowledge of the boat owner.
They said the crackdown on the boatmen operating the Lower Lake will also kill their livelihood.
“I make boats for the fisherman and earn my livelihood from it. But now after the administration has seized all my boats and materials, I don’t know how I will look after my family. They are punishing us absolutely no fault of ours,” said Pramod Kumar, a local boat maker.
Police to ask BMC to patrol lake at night
The city police are mulling over a series of preventive measures to prevent a Sunday-like tragedy. The cops plan to talk to local boatmen and request them not to rent out boats at night. They are also planning to ask the civic body to patrol the Lower Lake at night.
“After the Sunday’s incident, the police have decided to take some preventive actions, which includes requesting the Bhopal Municipal Corporation to run patrolling motorboats, equipped with night vision capabilities,” said superintendent of police (North) Arvind Saxena.
“Though it is not fully possible to implement security measures in all the water bodies of the city, but they will try their best to avoid such a repetition,” Saxena said, adding that police will talk to boat-owners living near the lakes and ask them not to allow anybody to take boats into the lake after sundown.
If they do not comply they will face action under section 304 of the IPC for culpable homicide, added Saxena. “We will also speak to the elders living in the area to keep a vigil in the area,” he said.
The police have registered a case under criminal procedure code in the matter.
THE FATAL DANCE
On Sunday, around 7.30pm, 10 youths took a boat into the Lower Lake allegedly to booze
The youth were having fun in an inebriated state when around 8.15pm one of them stood up on the boat and started to dance when it capsized near Kamlapati Ghat
Five of the youths managed to swim out of the lake while the rest, who did not know how to swim, drowned.
Locals living near the lake rushed to the spot, but due to darkness were not able to help the drowning youths
With the help of the state disaster response force (SDRF), the BMC divers fished out all the bodies by 12.30am on Monday
The dead were identified as Bunty Malviya, 17, resident of Bhiopura, Raj Gaekwad, 20, a resident of Kotra, Ajay Ahirwar, 20, a resident of Bhoipura, Vishal Meena, 18, a resident of Bhoipura and Shubham Meena, 19, a resident of Misrod.