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Thekkady tragedy: Chief inspector of boats arrested

October 08, 2009 22:22 IST

Kerala's chief inspector of Boats, M Mathews, was arrested on  for issuing 'worthiness' certificate without following due procedures to the boat which capsized in Thekkady lake in which 45 tourists were drowned.

Inspector General R Sreelekha told the media that the official had issued the certificate to the Kerala Tourism Development Corporations's boat Jalakanyaka, which sank in the Thekkady lake on September 30, without following the government guidelines and norms.

Ashokan, a gate keeper at the boarding point for the cruise, was also arrested on Thursday for allowing passengers to board the boat without tickets, thereby exceeding its capacity. Two days ago, the steersman of the boat Victor Samuel and sub-crew Anish were arrested and charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Mathews was arrested at Thekkady on instructions from Sreelekha, who had visited the spot to review the progress of the investigation.

Mathews was questioned by the Crime Branch team investigating the mishap. It was found from the probe that the official gave permission for the boat to be launched without obtaining the mandatory 'Worthiness Certificate' from the Indian Registrar of Shipping, Sreelekha said.

It was also found that he knew that there was small rightward slant to the boat, she said this fact was overlooked in issuing the certificate for the boat. An expert from the Department of Shipping Technology of Cochin University, who examined the boat yesterday, had said the vessel had a rightward tilt of 2.9 degrees, which was a manufacturing defect.

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