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Odisha boat tragedy: One boatman arrested, two missing

Odisha boat tragedy: One boatman arrested, two missing

Photo credit: PTI

A boat carrying over 90 people capsized on the Hirakud reservoir in Odisha's Sambalpur district.

Sambalpur/Cuttack:  Taking suo motu cognizance of the Hirakud boat tragedy which claimed 31 lives, Orissa High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the State Government asking it to file status reports in two weeks, even as a boatman was arrested in connection with the incident.

Expressing concern over Sunday's incident, a Division Bench of Justices Indrajit Mohanti and Biswanath Mohapatra admitted the matter as a public interest litigation (PIL).

The High Court asked the secretaries of revenue, home and water resources departments to file reports detailing as to how the tragedy occurred and who are responsible for it.

The government has also been asked to furnish details of the safety measures taken for those who are ferried by boats, sources said.

Asking the government to file detailed reports about it, the High Court fixed February 24 to hear the matter.

Meanwhile, the police which had filed an FIR at Hirakud Police Station against boat-owner Satyanarayan Pandey and two others, today arrested one of the two boatmen, identified as Akhaya Rana, Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Hirakud, D P Das said.

Pandey and the other boatman were absconding and efforts are on to nab them, he said.

The police said passengers were being ferried in unsafe and dangerous manner despite the fact that water was seeping into the motorised boat and its pump was not functioning.

Rana, however, claimed that despite his repeated plea to the passengers not to overcrowd the boat beyond its limited capacity, people forcibly boarded the vessel.

It may be recalled here that the mechanised boat carrying 114 members of a picnic party along with 30 local people had sunk due to overcrowding in the midle of the reservoir on Sunday afternoon.

Sambalpur district collector Balwant Singh has expressed his gratitude to Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and the fire brigade for their role in rescue operation and recovery of bodies from the reservoir.

The Collector also submitted a preliminary report on the incident to government; sources said adding Revenue division commissioner (RDC) P Meherda is conducting a probe into the boat tragedy.
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