Gujarat: In a major twist to the Harni Lake boat capsize tragedy that claimed 14 lives, including 12 school children and 2 teachers, it has emerged that the manager of the amusement park offered the ill-fated picnic to the school, potentially overlooking safety protocols.
On January 18, a day etched in horror for countless families, a joyride at the 'Fun Arena' within Harni Lake Zone turned fatal. Preliminary investigations have unveiled shocking details of negligence and disregard for safety, pointing fingers at both the park management and the boat operators.
Manager Invited School To Visit Harni Lake Zone
Shantilal Solanki, manager of Harni Lake Zone, stands accused of initiating the fateful picnic invitation to New Sunrise School. He allegedly offered transportation, snacks, and access to the park's attractions, including the ill-fated boating facility. While the intention may have been innocent, it set the stage for a sequence of errors that culminated in tragedy.
Once the deal was finalised, the New Sunrise School management informed the parents about the Harni Lake Zone picnic well in advance.
The 'Fun Arena' boasts amusement rides, boating, and other activities, but safety checks seem to have fallen by the wayside. The investigation alleges that teachers from New Sunrise School expressed concerns about overloading the boat with 25 children and 4 teachers. However, Solanki allegedly insisted on cramming everyone into the single vessel, ignoring their valid worries.
Safety Risk At Lake Boating Spot
This fatal decision, coupled with the reported absence of life jackets for some passengers, pushed the risk factor to a tipping point. Eyewitnesses described the boat struggling before taking on water, ultimately losing balance and overturning in the picturesque lake.
Rajesh Chauhan, an executive engineer from the Vadodara Municipal Corporation, filed a police complaint revealing that M/s Kotia Projects, owned by Paresh Shah, was awarded the Harni Lake Zone development contract in 2017. The project encompassed amusement rides, food stalls, a banquet hall, and, crucially, the boating facility.
Adding another layer of shock to the tragedy, Paresh Shah, the chief contractor and central figure in the project, is currently absconding. The FIR, filed against 18 individuals, inexplicably omits Shah's name. Authorities are now intensifying efforts to apprehend him, considering him the key orchestrator of the development project and potentially accountable for the safety lapses.