Gujarat boat tragedy: Manager of Harni lake recreation zone, two others held

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Published : Jan 19, 2024, 1:17 PM IST

Three people  have been arrested due to the recent boat accident in Harni Lake.

Three people, including the manager of a contractor, have been arrested due to the recent boat accident in Vadodara city's Harni Lake. The horrifying episode took place on Thursday where 12 students and two teachers reportedly lost their lives while the boat tipped over in the Lake.

Vadodara: A day after 12 students and two teachers were killed in a boat accident in Harni Lake on the outskirts of Vadodara city in Gujarat, three people, including the manager of a contractor, have been arrested, said a police official on Friday.

Following the tragedy on Thursday afternoon, the Harni police had registered an FIR under sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code against 18 persons, including the partners of Kotia Projects, which was given the contract to run Harni Lake Zone by the civic body.

We have already arrested the manager of the Harni Lake Zone, Shantilal Solanki, and two boat operators, Nayan Gohil and Ankit. Efforts are on to nab other culprits. Twelve school students and two female teachers have lost their lives in the incident. Rescue operations in the lake ended on Thursday night, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Panna Momaya.

Meanwhile, some of the families performed the last rites of their children, who died in the boat tragedy, late on Thursday night with teary eyes. As per the FIR, Kotia Projects was given the contract to operate and maintain Harni Lake Zone, a recreation hub, in 2017 by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).

In his complaint, VMC engineer Rajesh Chauhan said the firm, its owners, managers, and boat operators indulged in criminal negligence on several counts, be it the non-maintenance of boats or not keeping an adequate number of life-saving equipment and life jackets. It was also revealed that only a few students were given life jackets and no instructions were given to them, as per the complaint.

Due to overload, the FIR said, the boat first started swaying and then capsized following water ingress from the front side. Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel visited the site late on Thursday evening and toured Janvi Hospital and the state-run SSG Hospital to meet survivors and kin of the deceased.

Patel also monitored the rescue operation that was being carried out by personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other agencies, including the local fire brigade. In a message on social media platform X, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, Distressed by the loss of lives to a boat capsizing at the Harni lake in Vadodara. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. May the injured recover soon.

The local administration is providing all possible assistance to those affected. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. The injured would be given Rs 50,000, the PM further said. The Gujarat government has already ordered a high-level probe into the incident and directed the Vadodara district collector to submit the inquiry report within 10 days.

A notification issued by the state home department on Thursday night said the collector has been directed to conduct a detailed inquiry on the reasons and circumstances that led to the tragedy, whether there was any negligence on the part of the contractor or any official, and how such incidents can be avoided in the future.

Gujarat's chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of those who have died and Rs 50,000 to the injured. Gujarat Education Minister Kuber Dindor said a probe has been ordered after he learned the boat was carrying more people than the stipulated number.

I have also learned that students were not wearing life jackets at the time of the accident. We will take action against those found guilty of these lapses, Dindor said. A preliminary probe by authorities also revealed the boat, which was pulled out of the muddy waters, had only 14 seats, nearly half the number of people it was carrying at the time of the incident, officials said.

Read More

  1. Gujarat Harni Lake boat tragedy: CM Bhupendra Patel visits injured students at hospital
  2. Vadodara boat capsize: 14 dead, case registered against 18 people
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