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Boat services to Papikondalu to resume from April 15

Prajamahendravaram: After more than 18 months, boat operations will resume to the popular tourism destination Papikondalu from April 15, much to the delight of tourists and boat operators.Following the capsize of Royal Vasishta in River Godavari at Kachaluru, boat services were suspended from September 15, 2019. Of the total 77 tourists and crew members aboard Royal Vasishta, only 26 survived in the mishap.Boat operations will start from Singanapalli in West Godavari to Papikondalu (Perantalla Palli). Initially, Tourism Department’s Haritha boat has been given permission to operate in Godavari.

It takes one hour to reach Singanapalli by road from Rajamahendravaram and from there it is two-and-half hour boat ride to Papikondalu. The boat will return to Singanapalli from Papikondalu the same day. According to officials, one week after Haritha resumes operations, more boats will be allowed to operate in Godavari in a phased manner.

About 20 boats are operated by private persons to Papikondalu, apart from the boats of Tourism Department. After the Kachaluru boat mishap, the State government had issued new guidelines for operation of boats to ensure the safety of tourists.Speaking to TNIE, Dowleswaram Barrage Superintending Engineer Ramakrishna said, “A report has been submitted to Kakinada port authorities after conducting a bathymetric survey in the river, which measures the depth of a water body as well as map its underwater features.

Route clearance for boat operations will be given by Dowleswaram Barrage authorities, while Kakinada Port authorities will issue fitness certificates to boats. Control rooms have been set up at Rajamahendravaram, Gandi Posamma and Pochavaram on East Godavari side and Singanapalli and Perantalla Palli on West Godavari side to monitor the operation of boat services in the river.

AP Tourism Officer Veera Narayana said they got permission to commence boat operations from April 15. The ticket price for Papikondalu will be fixed in a couple of days. The Tourism Department will also operate the second boat Sir Arthur Cotton soon based on the response from tourists to Papikondalu tour, he added.

Boat Owners Association leader Kareem Shaw said around 20 boats are expected to get approval for operation of services from Dowleswaram Barrage and Kakinada Port authorities in the coming days. “Ten boats will start operations from Singanapalli and 10 from Pochavaram,’’ he said.

About 40 crew members have pursued the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) course from the institutes recognised by the Directorate General of Shipping to operate boat services strictly as per safety standards. “We have been deprived of livelihood for the past 18 months. We have urged the government to allow us to get back in business as we are ready to comply with all the norms.”