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Temporary ban on boating at Mumbai’s Powai lake

Activity may resume after a standard operating procedure is in place...

mumbai Updated: Dec 30, 2016 11:45 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
A disaster management team conducting a rescue operation at Powai lake on Saturday.
A disaster management team conducting a rescue operation at Powai lake on Saturday.(HT File Photo)

Days after three people lost their lives in a boating accident at Powai lake, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has temporarily banned boating there. According to senior civic officials, the BMC’s hydraulic department will issue orders to the Maharashtra State Angling Association (MSAA), asking it to stop boating at the lake.  

Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, additional municipal commissioner, in-charge of the hydraulic department, said, "We want the association to prepare a standard operating procedure to maintain safety at the premises. Until then, boating at the lake must be stopped."  

On Friday night, an eight-member group hosting a houseboat party met with tragedy after their boat capsized. Three members died, while the others were rescued. According to the Powai police, the incident happened after the boat hit a rock and tipped over.  

Boating at Powai lake has been a controversial activity since 2014. A Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator had complained that the MSAA was operating illegal houseboats for commercial purposes. The then civic chief Sitaram Kunte had asked the S ward — under which Powai falls — and the hydraulic department to demolish these illegal boats.

However, only a few boats were removed as the association got a stay order from the Bombay high court. Currently, there are 29 boats used by 350-odd MSAA members.  

Sayyed Zeeshan Ahmed, MSAA president said, "The people who threw a party were not even members of the MSAA. They entered by coercing one of the members. They did not even note their entrance in the association’s register.”  

Ahmed said the association uses the lake for angling. He added that the boats are erroneously called houseboats. "These are machans or rafts that have been around for a long time. We have been following all the due procedures. We have swimmers, who played an important role in the rescue operations last week."

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