Visakhapatnam: The death of a 24-year-old from a fishing family in a boating accident in Rushikonda last week has thrown the spotlight on how adventure water sports are promoted by AP Tourism Development Corporation.
APTDC, in addition to operating two of its own motorboats, signed an agreement in 2020 with Fun Adventures which owns one motorboat and three kayaks. He signed another pact with Live In Adventures which operates two motorboats, three kayaks and a recreational scuba system. All activities are carried out in Rushikonda.
The agreement was signed in December 2020 after the Port Officer of Kakinada issued a certificate of survey and a certificate of registration in the name of the Registrar of Water Sports Boats, with the AP Maritime Board. This is valid until October 24, 2022. But the port officer did not receive any request to issue a certificate or grant registration to the speedboat which served as a makeshift diving boat.
Investigations revealed that APTDC chose to ignore the fact that Live In Adventures did not have a dive boat. Instead, the company converted a speedboat into a makeshift dive boat and has been operating for the past two years.
APTDC’s water fleet manager, Nageswara Rao, refused to reveal the content of this agreement.
“We have launched an investigation into the recent boating accident and other Live In Adventure activities. We have also banned their operations until further notice,’ he told DC.
The Association of Adventure Tour Operators of India (ATOAI) in its guidelines on scuba diving has stated that all dive centers offering this facility must have dive boats. The manual states that the boat must be custom designed to meet the needs of its passengers, must have rooms to place filled cylinders and all essential safety and recovery equipment and equipment, including first aid kits and emergency oxygen cylinders.
In accordance with other stipulations, the hull must be designed with enough space to administer first aid and CPR when needed. The Live-In Adventures Makeshift Boat is not large enough to comply with these mandatory guidelines.
The ATOAI formulated these guidelines on the directions of the Union Ministry of Tourism in 2018.
Live In Adventure carries two tourists, two dive experts and a driver in the makeshift boat at a distance of one nautical mile (1.8 km) as restricted by APTDC.
An APTDC official said the company selected Live In Adventures in accordance with the technical evaluation conducted by an ATOAI committee for adventure activities at Rushikonda. Live In Adventure promoter Balaram Naidu was unavailable for comment.