Andhra Pradesh opposition leaders have come down heavily on Chandrababu Naidu's government over the tragic Godavari boat mishap, where 16 bodies have been recovered so far.
On Tuesday evening, a boat reportedly carrying more than 40 passengers, capsized near Manturu of Devipatnam mandal of East Godavari district on its way to Vadapalli, a riverfront village.
Opposition leader, YSRCP Chief Jagan Mohan Reddy, slammed the government for failing to take safety measures despite past experiences.
The leader who is on his Padayatra spoke with media regarding the incident.
Accusing the government of corrupt practices when it comes to taking safety precautions and licencing, he said, "The incident is so saddening to me, these murders are due to the government. We can think otherwise if it’s an isolated incident but in November, a similar incident had claimed more than 20 lives."
While 16 people managed to reach the river bank safely following the mishap, nearly 20 people are still reported to be missing.
A sudden heavy whirlwind is said to be the reason behind the mishap. Rampachodavaram Additional SP Ajitha earlier told TNM, "The apparent strong wind is the reason behind the boat toppling."
Jagan Reddy added, "They're ferrying boats without licences, no safety regulation is being followed. The boats are being operated without bothering about the safety of passengers."
Accusing Naidu of corruption, Jagan said, "They're (boat owners) giving bribes. In those bribes, ministers are involved and bribes are going from ministers to CM, that is why CM is mum and doesn't respond when such incidents happen."
Questioning the lapses in safety measures, he said, "Can't a government with such a big machinery put an end to such practices and prevent such incidents? They will not question because they're taking bribes."
I demand that the Govt immediately release a compensation of 25L for each victim. Our YSRCP leaders have reached the families and are doing everything possible to alleviate the situation and help the victimised families.— YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (@ysjagan) May 16, 2018
Jagan Mohan Reddy demanded Rs 25 lakhs compensation to each victim.
Janasena Chief Pawan Kalyan, who is on a pilgrimage in Tirupati, too expressed his dismay at the incident.
Speaking to Telugu media, he said, "We don't have a culture of valuing lives of people. In the west, there will be safety measures but here, these incidents are happening just because of profit-first culture, officials never question the maintenance."
Pawan Kalyan further questioned, "How many have to die to take preventive measures? Government should give the victims fair compensation and should immediately start taking action to prevent such incidents in the future."
Ruling party leaders have hit back at the opposition for "unnecessary politicisation" of the issue. Speaking to TNM, Information and Public Relations Minister Kaluva Srinivasulu, said, "Each and every action has been taken, CM himself reviewed the incident through the night and visited the spot today, opposition claims of inaction are false."
Srinivasulu added, "He is trying to take political advantage from everything including the saddening death of people. He is not playing any constructive role as opposition leader."
When TNM asked the Minister regarding the alleged lapses in licencing and security measures, he said, "We have taken firm action. As of now, two officials including a chief engineer, have been suspended for negligence."
He further stated, "The government is firm on taking action against all those who are responsible for the tragedy."
CM Chandrababu Naidu visited the accident spot and directed officials to undertake rescue operations on a war-footing.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, ESL Narasimhan, has expressed deep shock and sorrow at the incident and offered his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. He also enquired with the state government officials about the relief operations.