PIL in SC seeks probe into Vadodara boat accident
New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an investigation into the Vadodara boat accident in Gujarat where as many as 14 school kids and two teachers drowned.
In the tragic accident on January 18, a boat carrying a group of students and some teachers on a picnic became overloaded and overturned in the Harni Lake.
The PIL filed by an association comprising families of victims of the 2022 Morbi bridge collapse tragedy said that in the last decade alone, hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured across 11 incidents of bridge collapse and 12 instances of capsizing of boats.
It added that the petitioner-Association is concerned about the continuous incidents of similar nature taking place throughout India and many of these tragedies have a “common template”, which calls for a coordinated and systemic solution on an urgent basis.
“While legal proceedings are underway to fix liability for the Morbi tragedy, the State of Gujarat has already seen further incidents of bridge collapse or boat capsizing or similar incidents involving the cumulative negligence of municipal bodies and contractors,” the plea said.
When a mishap takes place, the municipality blames the contractor while the latter pleads ignorance on the ground that it has no technical knowledge or expertise, it said.
The PIL stated that neither the municipality nor the contractor carries out proper repairs, maintains necessary equipment, provides life guards and life jackets, regulates the number of people allowed at once onto public facilities like lakes, bridges, etc., and “police conduct a hurried and shoddy investigation, aggravating the injustice caused to the victims.”
The plea filed before the apex court prays for constitution of an expert committee to examine the reasons behind the repeated occurrence of tragedies, including the role and involvement of State actors and contractors.
“The Committee may also lay down guidelines with regard to fixing liability (tortious and criminal) and award of adequate amount compensation,” it added.“The Committee may also lay down guidelines with regard to fixing liability (tortious
Further, the PIL said that the investigations in all such tragedies should be carried out by an independent agency and monitored by the concerned High Court or the Supreme Court to ensure that the powerful players in the system (rich corporations, state actors and politicians) are not spared.