(Court): Drowing of 13 Karachiites: Boat capsizing inquiry report submitted in SHC

Karachi:Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday heard a petition regarding the boat capsizing and drowning of ten picnickers in Keenjhar Lake last month.
The Sindh tourism secretary, the deputy commissioner (DC), and SSP Thatta appeared before the court. The secretary tourism submitted an inquiry report and record of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for boating in the lake. He informed the court that over 100 boats are available at Keenjhar Lake by the tourism department which are being run under the department and all arrangements including life jackets are provided to boats for picnickers.
The secretary further informed that the boat which capsized that day was a fishing boat and not meant for tourism purposes but, boat men, taking advantage of scores of people visiting the recreational spot, ferry visitors from the banks of the lake to Nori Jam Tamachi shrine at the water body’s centre to mint money.
He also informed the court that only six people are allowed to sit in the boat, but 13 people were sitting in that boat. In his report, the secretary stated that three more counters are being constructed for boating and picnickers would be asked to take boats from those counters.
The report says picnickers would not be allowed to come until this work is completed. It is also mentioned in the report that three watch towers would be formed to supervise the picnickers while a committee compromising all stakeholders would also be formed to implement the SOPs. The committee will submit its monthly report to DC Thatta. The report further said that fishing boats would be banned in picnic areas because it is an offense to fishing in picnic areas.
It also reads picnic boats will be registered after their fitness checking by the Pak Navy experts, however, a rescue center comprising five rooms will also be constructed with all medical facilities. The court put off the hearing until October 20, directing the petitioner to go through the report and submit his answer.
On Sept 17, 10 people died after their boat capsized in Keenjhar Lake. The victims, including children and women, were from the same family were residents of Karachi’s Mehmoodabad locality. “The boatmen charge Rs 50 per passenger and take people to the place of Noori Jam Tamachi in the middle of the lake without a life jacket and other safety gear,” the petition said. “The boatmen are running their boats without a regulatory policy and licensing laws,” the petition further described.
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