On January 21, 2019, 16 people died after a boat ferrying 34 people overturned in the Kali River in Uttara Kannada.

Ktaka festival returns with safety restrictions after 16 killed in 2019 river tragedy
news Festival Friday, January 10, 2020 - 08:16

Following last year’s tragic boat capsizing incident that left 16 dead on Kali River, the Kurumgad island annual festival is set to resume under the watchful eyes of the Indian Coast Guards and Uttara Kannada (UK) district administration on Friday, January 10. According to the UK district officials, besides mandatory registration of boats ferrying pilgrims, the authorities will ensure that all devotees fasten ‘life-jackets’ prior to the journey, else the boat cannot leave the dock.

Speaking to TNM, Deputy Commissioner of Uttara Kannada, Dr. Harish Kumar has said that utmost stress has been made to ensure that the devotees travel to and fro safely. “We have met all the stakeholders, including the temple authorities, fishermen, coastal police and Indian Coast Guards, we are taking all precautions to ensure that no untoward incident takes place this time,” he said. 

According to officials, only 50 boats have been authorised this year to ferry tourists to the temple of Sri Narasimha on the island. To ensure that the boats are not overloaded, the Fisheries Department has fixed the seating-capacity based on the length of the boats. “We have made four categories this time. Those boats with less than 10 meters can carry a maximum of 20 persons, boats between 10 and 15 meters can take 50 people, between 15 and 20 meters can ferry 80 persons and those boats above 20 meters are allowed to take 100 persons," Uttara Kannada district Deputy Director of Fisheries P Nagaraju said.

All authorised trawlers and purse seine boats that are to ferry devotees to Kurumgad have been directed to pick up and drop off the passengers only from Baithkol and the ferrying has been allowed only between 6 am to 5.30 pm. "Officials from Fisheries Department and police department will be at the boarding point. Only the boats which have fulfilled our conditions will be allowed to ferry people only after each of the passengers wear life jackets," P Nagaraju said. 

There are some groups of devotees who also come from Belikeri (Ankola) and also Goa. Coastal Security Police officials will keep an eye on these boats too. "Gemini boats of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard boats will be nearby as well. If there is any need, they too will extend their help," he added.

Four interceptor boats of Coastal Security Police will keep an eye on all the boats and also provide help if necessary. “A team of 50 volunteers fishermen will be on the move in the sea to ensure the safety of the devotees,” Nagaraju said. 

Kurumgad is a small island about four kilometres off the Karwar cost on Arabian Sea. The island houses the temple of Sri Narasimha and the one-day annual festival of the temple is held during January every year.

The event is of great importance and people from not only Uttara Kannada, but from various parts of Karnataka and neighboring Goa attend the event with great devotion. This year, the annual festival would be held on January 10. Recently, besides the devotees, tourist presence also has swelled the number of visitors for the annual festival.

On January 21, 2019, during the annual festival, 16 people died after a boat ferrying 34 people overturned in the sea. While several passengers were rescued by the crew from other boats, many did not make it out alive.

Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)

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