Pvt boat services in Ujani backwaters shut for safety

Pvt boat services in Ujani backwaters shut for safety

Pvt boat services in Ujani backwaters shut for safety

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The state irrigation department has shut down boat operations in the Ujani backwaters for safety reasons, leading to an outcry from villagers living along the banks due to the lack of alternative commuting arrangements. 

This decision follows the tragic deaths of six people after a boat capsized last week. The Ujani Dam, located between Pune and Solapur districts, is one of the largest dams in the state, with a water storage capacity of 117 TMC.

Villagers travelling to and from Indapur and Karmala now face a 70 km-long detour by road, as boat services were their primary means of crossing the backwaters. 

The 10 private boat operators working on various routes over the past few years neither had permits from the Maharashtra Maritime Board nor were their boats equipped with safety gear.

Raosaheb Karale, Executive Engineer of the state irrigation department, emphasized, “Safety of villagers is paramount. We cannot rule out another tragedy if we allow private operators to continue. We have taken the decision after consulting the police and district administrations.”

A senior official from the irrigation department noted, “The total area of the dam is 30,000 hectares. It is difficult for us to monitor the movement of boats around such a large water body. Thus, we have stopped the services completely.”

Villagers living in Indapur and Karmala tehsils expressed their frustration. A former president of the Indapur municipal council advocated for the completion of a bridge between Shirsawadi village in Indapur and Kugaon in Karmala tehsils as a priority solution.

Solapur District Collector Kumar Ashirwad is scheduled to hold a meeting with affected villagers and activists on May 31 in Solapur to address their concerns.