Only two months before the recent boat tragedy at Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the Union tourism ministry had received a letter from a traveller that an accident was waiting to happen there. The letter, forwarded to the local authorities, had drawn attention to the absence of safety standards in the island's tourist circuit.
Travel companies, when contacted, said they mostly deployed their own personnel on ground during the peak travel season between October and April. "The Andamans is a big part of our business. We are extremely careful in our tie-ups with operators to see that the quality and safety standards are met. We increase the strength of our team locally when the demand is high," said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
On Sunday, an overcrowded tourist boat had capsized in the Andaman Sea killing about 20 persons.
The harbour route - one of the four sectors where vessels ply in the Andamans - where the accident took place, had no one to monitor whether operators were following safety standards.
"Our preliminary probe shows that the ill-fated boat had life jackets but tourists were not wearing them. We do random checks but no one certifies each voyage," said Punya Srivastava, commissioner of police, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.