Thursday, November 22, 2012

At your own risk

That is how you enjoy water sports facilities, inaugurated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the Sabarmati riverfront. The firm operating boats does not have clearances from the police and the fire brigade though it is mandatory as per law

Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau 

It was with his familiar swagger and the waving of the left hand that Chief Minister Narendra Modi entered the boat and took a ride on the Sabarmati, marking the opening of the much hyped, ambitious river front and signifying vibrancy of the state. Only, the project did not have the mandatory sanctions from the police and the fire brigade. To this day, it does not have the clearances. And, hence, the thousands of people who have taken boat rides on the Sabarmati since August 15 and those who want to experience the same have done so and will do so at their own risk.
    Modi may have inaugurated the boat ride on the Sabarmati in grand style taking the ride with his minister Nitin Patel and Mayor Asit Vora, but the firm that operates around 10 boats is still awaiting no objection certificates in the absence of which neither the operator, Amrapali, nor the riverfront officials can be held responsible for any mishap at the site. Incidentally, Amrapali also has the contract to operate boating at Kankaria lake.
    GB Gadhvi, the inspector in the licence branch of police commissioner's office, said, “In places of entertainment such as the Sabarmati riverfront, any activity should have the police permission, particularly since there is a danger of a stampede or a boat capsize. No such permission has been sought from us by the contractor running the boat ride.”
    Fire officials, too, told Mirrorthat they have not given no-objection certificate as yet to the contractor.
    However, Sabarmati Riverfront Executive Director Dilip Mahajan said precautionary measures were in place and the revelers faced no danger. “The fire department has deployed a rescue team at the ride venue. There are two kinds of clearances sought from the fire department, one includes a rescue team in case of a mishap and the other relates to short circuit. While the rescue team is already in place, there is no danger of short circuit in this case.”
    On the police permission, Capt Mahajan said the boat contractor would seek the NOC. “The police will issue the same after examining the site and following the procedure due. All contractors follow safety measures and there is no chance of a mishap,” he claimed.
    Jolly Patel, the contractor, was confident of getting the sanctions soon. “We have applied for the NOC from the fire department and the police. We will get it on Tuesday,” he said.
    Meanwhile, people who took the boat ride at the riverfront were not amused when they learnt of the absence of the necessary clearances.
    The Jains were in Ahmedabad as tourists and for them the Sabarmati riverfront was the place to be with its walkway and the major attraction of the boat ride.
    When Mirrorapproached them after their boating experience, they were aghast to learn that the service did not have NOC.
    Ankit Jain (27), a businessman who was visiting the river front, said, “It is ridiculous. How can the rides be allowed without proper permissions? Itravelled with my entire family in the boat. How am I to know that due permissions have not been taken? It is such a huge risk.”
    His wife Shivani (25) was not happy after she learnt that the boating at the Sabarmati river front was being operated without any sanction, especially since the Jains were there with three-year-old daughter Mauli.
    Neha Modi (23), a housewife from Raipur, said, “They (the officials and operators) should have taken adequate permissions before starting this. We just had a thrilling experience but are now worried who would have been responsible if there were a mishap.”
    Darshini Shah (24), a chartered accountant student, felt it was wrong to cut corners when it came to people's safety. “They should have taken the permissions. It is wrong to use short cuts when it comes to such things. They should have waited for some time and taken the necessary permissions before starting this.”