Officials' negligence: 5 killed

Boat used to ferry stranded people had technical fault

Here is a fresh example of how officials’ negligent attitude can claim innocent lives, especially during natural calamity. A motor boat deployed for rescuing people stranded in the flood water at Hiremaagi, Hungund taluk in the district, recently killed five persons.
The reason: The boat had a technical problem, and would go off suddenly. But the officials did not check it properly before sending it for rescue operation.

Hiremaagi village is situated on the bank of river Malaprabha. It was marooned when the river started overflowing following heavy rainfall.
Responding two days after the village was cut off from the outside world, the district administration sent a motor boat to shift the people. But the boat had a technical problem, which was not noticed by the officials.

Initially, the boat functioned smoothly. But after some trips, it started giving trouble.
Some youth from the village tried to contact the district administration and the area MLA. But they did not have the patience to listen to villagers’ pleas.

At the same time, the village elders started insisting that the boatman speed up the shifting process as there were more than 2000 people waiting to cross the water.
There were about 25 people on board the boat. When it had crossed half the distance, the engine suddenly went off. This made the already frightened people to behave frantically.

The boat leaned to the left, and Devekevva Nadar (48) and four children fell down in the water.
The boatman and some youth attempted to rescue the woman and children, but their efforts proved futile. The people remaining in the boat were rescued by two alert police officers in a county boat.

The children’s bodies were fished out yesterday and day before yesterday; the woman’s body was found in a maize field near the village on Tuesday morning.
 Pundalik Chavvan, a relative of one of the victims, alleged it was officials’ apathy that claimed innocent lives. “Had they tested the motor boat properly the tragedy would have been averted. It was really strange that how a malfunctioning boat was sent for rescuing people,” he said.

Many of the villagers recall that two brave police officers— CPI Sanganna Tumbagi and PSI Phalakshayya Hiremath - and boatman Basavaraj, who risked their life to save the people on board the boat when it capsized.

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