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Kerala's majority houseboat operators unqualified for job: CAG report

 Thiruvananthapuram Aug 10: Houseboat services are one of the most lucrative businesses flourishing in Kerala’s backwaters. While houseboat owners focus more on its luxurious amenities, safety always takes a backseat.
A report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) at the Assembly on Tuesday showed that a majority of the operators of houseboats on Vembanad lake are not qualified for that job.
Out of the 42 houseboats inspected, syrangs (operators) of 29 boats were found to be ineligible, the report said. Lascars and drivers of some boats also found to be unqualified.  
Appointments to these boats are made under the Travancore Public Canal and Public Ferries Act 1921 formulated by the the British. Under this law, each boat has to have a lascar, a syrang and a driver. Only the lascar is required to have mandatory knowledge of swimming.
However, now most of the boats only have two workers with the syrang doubling up as the driver. According to the CAG report, there are no life-saving equipment, life jackets or fire safety tools aboard the houseboats.
Out of the 734 houseboats registered under the Alappuzha Ports Registry, 326 have not renewed their licences as on March 31, 2016.  Also, 69 percent of the boats do not have a Third Party Insurance.
As per the figures available with the Tourism Department, there are a total of 1,500 houseboats in the state. A study by the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM) has recommended the authorities to restrict the number of houseboats in Vembanad lake to 262.
As per the rules, the owners should get their boats tested at the dry dock once in 36 months, but is often violated. - Mathrubhumi News.