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Gujarat boat tragedy exposes safety lapses, 12 students and 2 teachers dead

National News Desk

A boat carrying 27 people, mostly students and teachers from a private school, capsized in Harni lake near Vadodara, Gujarat, on Thursday, killing 12 students and 2 teachers. The incident has exposed the glaring safety lapses at the popular picnic spot, where no life jackets, rescuers, or CCTV cameras were available.

The students of New Sunrise School were on an educational trip to the lake, which is maintained by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). The boat, which had a capacity of only 14 people, was overloaded with nearly double the number of passengers. The boat operator, who was also on board, reportedly lost control of the boat and it overturned in the middle of the lake.

Video clip from the X handle of Pranav Pratap Singh

The local residents and fishermen rushed to the spot and managed to rescue 13 people, including the boat operator. However, 14 people could not be saved and their bodies were fished out later by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) teams.

The Gujarat government has ordered a high-level probe into the incident and directed the Vadodara district collector to submit a report within 10 days. The probe will look into the reasons and circumstances that led to the tragedy, the negligence and lapses on the part of the VMC and the boat operator, and the measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

The police have registered a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and attempt to commit culpable homicide against 18 people, including the VMC officials, the contractor, and the boat operator. Three people have been arrested so far in connection with the case.

The state government has also announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish over the tragedy and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs 50,000 each to the injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).

The incident has sparked outrage among the public and the civil society, who have demanded accountability and action against the responsible authorities and individuals. The incident has also raised questions about the safety and regulation of boating activities in the state.

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