East Godavari: Former Amalapuram MP GV Harsha Kumar on Saturday filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition in the Supreme Court seeking direction to Union Government and also Andhra Pradesh Government to retrieve the ill-fated Royal Vasishta Boat and even the remaining dead bodies from the River Godavari. The Supreme Court accepted the PIL for hearing.

Harsha Kumar levelled serious allegations that AP Government hasn’t interested to retrieve the sunken Royal Vasishta Boat. The operation to retrieve the capsized tourist boat has been called off, and the AP government has directed Kakinada-based Balaji Marines, which was roped into the salvage the sunken boat to stop its operation.

It may be called that the boat, carrying 77 persons, including tourists and few members to Papikondalu, capsized in River Godavari near Kachuluru of Devipatnam Mandal in East Godavari district on September 15 allegedly after it was caught in a whirlpool resulting in the death of 51 persons. So far, the NDRF and SDRF teams retrieved 36 bodies, and the search is on for the remaining 15 dead bodies.

Expressing that AP government misleading with false statistics, Harsha Kumar said that there were over 90 persons in the boat at the time of the tragedy and 26 persons were rescued. The death toll in the boat tragedy is more than that of AP government claimed and there is need to retrieve the boat to spell out the exact casualties in the incident since some bodies might have trapped in the boat, he added.

The PIL sought a direction to the union and state governments to fish-out all the missing dead bodies from the River with the active involvement of the Indian Navy, Director General of Shipping and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The plea further sought direction for Andhra Pradesh to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the major boat tragedy and initiate proper action against the responsible officials of various departments, including Port, Police, Irrigation, and Revenue Departments.

In the PIL, Harsha Kumar also pointed out that several illegal and few licensed boats have been operating in major rivers across the country but the authorities are not taking appropriate action to regulate the boats resulting in accidents, illegal transportation of goods and extraction of sand. It also sought a direction to regulate boats across the country and frame guidelines for inland waterways.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Harsha Kumar said that the AP government has been trying to hide the number of people travelled in the ill-fated boat and also not taken much effort to retrieve the boat. As I am questioning the inefficiency of the government, it targeted and framed me in some cases, he added.

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