December 12, 2023 – In a dangerous trend, raft operators are putting the lives of enthusiasts at risk by engaging in daredevilry on the Ganges. Safety kayaks, an essential companion to rafts navigating the Ganges, are conspicuously absent, with the tourism department turning a blind eye to the matter. Tourists, enticed by the thrill, are willingly exposing themselves to perilous waves, seeking the adrenaline rush amidst the currents of the Ganges.
Regions like Tapovan, Munikireti, Swargashram, Laxmanjhula, Purnanand, among others, boast a myriad of rafting businesses catering to hundreds of enthusiasts. These rafting operators, stationed at Shivpuri, Marine Drive, Brahmpuri, and Club House, attract tourists from various states, including Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Mumbai. As per regulations, having a safety kayak alongside each raft is mandatory for ensuring the safety of participants.
The operation of safety kayaks is crucial, as they can swiftly rescue tourists in the event of a raft overturning in the sudden Ganges waves. The cost of deploying a safety kayak alongside a raft ranges from a thousand to fifteen hundred rupees. While a rafting operator can conduct three to four rounds in a day, many are opting to forego safety kayaks in pursuit of higher profits.
Despite tourists paying ten rupees each to the Forest Department and Ganga River Rafting Rotation Committee, the safety of tourists is left to the whims of the gods. Authorities have yet to scrutinize raft operators, neglecting to monitor the situation closely.
Due to the busy schedule of programs, monitoring has been neglected. A checking campaign will soon be initiated in collaboration with the team. Action will be taken against raft operators found violating safety regulations. – Khushal Singh Negi, Adventurous Tourism Officer