Thekkady: Chief boat inspector, watcher held

 The arrest of M Mathew came after Inspector General of Police D Sreelekha inspected the accident site and the boat. Forest watcher Prakasan who enabled 12 additional ticketless passengers to board the boat has also been arrested.

Mathew himself had told the Crime Branch probing the tragedy that he had noticed a slant in the boat and had apprised the Indian Registration for Shipping (IRS).

Fitness certificate

The police have found that Mathew did not secure the mandatory fitness certificate for the boat from the IRS. Whatever certificate that the boat received from the IRS was for manufacturing its hull, that too was secured directly by the company which manufactured the boat.

 On Wednesday, Dr S K Pyarelal, head of the department of ship building technology, Cochin University of Science and Technology, had revealed that the boat had a 2.9 degree slant to the right. Dr Pyarelal had also stated that modern boats which fulfilled the standard design requirements would not turn turtle or sink even if passengers moved to one side.

This has given credence to suspicions about the boat’s faulty design and manufacture expressed by several people including passengers who escaped. The fact that the chief inspector of boats knew about it but did not intervene to stop it from being deployed for cruise is being seen as a serious lapse.

The probe team has already summoned Prof Anand Subramani of IIT Chennai who designed the boat as well the managers of Vignesh Marine Technical Services Pvt Ltd, Chennai which made the boat.

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