The boat owner of the ill-fated boat- 'Atlantic' that capsized at Tanur leaving 22 dead on Sunday, has been arrested, but is the only villain as this tragedy could have been avoided had the state government officials done their job with due diligence.
In the words of Leader of Opposition V.D.Satheesan, "this was a man made tragedy which could have easily been avoided."Nassar, the owner of the boat is in police custody since Monday evening, though the driver of the boat and his assistant continue to be on the run.
According to the rules of the Kerala government, there is a Maritime Board which is responsible for giving the fitness certificate for boats after a proper inspection of the safety and security aspects.Incidentally, Nassar who hails from Tanur, purchased 'Atlantic' which was a fishing boat when the original owner decided to sell it.
He took it to a boat building yard at Ponnani and gave it a facelift by making alterations turning a fishing boat into a pleasure boat.According to standard specifications, the boat has a carrying capacity of 22 people only, but on Sunday there were 40, if not more, including children.
Moreover, the Department of Ship Technology- Cochin University of Science and Technology role is also likely to come under the scanner as they are responsible for giving the boat stability certificate.According to those in the know of things, the dynamics of a fishing boat and a pleasure boat carrying passengers are different and hence authorities who gave the technical sanction to 'Atlantic' owe an answer.
Then comes the role of the District Tourism Promotion Council - Malappuram who are responsible for all tourism-related activities and have they done their job well.Yet another government body which will have to give answers is the Tanur Municipality who are primarily responsible for all activities in their locality, where the public is involved.
Public anguish surfaced , the moment Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who dashed to Tanur and announced a judicial probe and the formation of a special investigation team to probe the accident.The reason for the anguish is none knows what about the actions taken after three boat tragedies in Kumarakom, Thekkady and Thatekadu that saw over a hundred innocent lives being lost.
But, the saving grace came on Tuesday when the vacation division bench of the Kerala High Court suo motu took up the tragedy and sought a report on it by the Port Officer.