Ahmedabad city Monday detained six people, a day after two persons were killed and 29 injured after a joyride crashed at an amusement park near Kankaria lakefront in Ahmedabad Sunday evening. They have been charged for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
The incident happened when the ‘Discovery’ joyride, in the form of a pendulum with 31 people in it, was on at the Balvatika Amusement Park. The ride was suspended on a pole-like structure that snapped and sent the pendulum crashing on to the ground.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday ordered strict action against those responsible for the accident. “Strictest actions will be taken against the offenders so that such incidents don’t happen again. There are many amusement parks in the state, and the Janmashtami fairs are also coming up but no one’s lives should be endangered. In this case, the managers and others have been detained. Inspection should be conducted from time to time. While arrests will be made in this case, in light of this incident, the state government shall take appropriate measures and stock of the situation,” Rupani said.
Inspection process ‘opaque’
Although the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is in the eye of a storm as Congress councillors seek accountability over the joyride mishap, amusement rides are in reality inspected and certified by the government’s Road and Buildings (R&B) Department, headed by deputy chief minister Nitin Patel who holds the portfolio. The R&B department’s duties include inspection of mechanical rides of various lok melas and private agencies/contractors during festivals. However, the inspection process is an internal document. This is an area of seeming opacity as the city police commissioner or the district magistrate’s office, which issue licences, do so simply relying on the R&B department’s reports.
Of the six accused who were booked, Ghanshyam Patel, brother of a former BJP corporator in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), and his son, Bhavesh Patel, are two of the three directors of the Ahmedabad-based entertainment company, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd, which runs the park. Others booked are Tushar Chowksi, a manager, and Lala Mahendra Patel and Kishan Mahanty – two operators of the ride – and Manish Vaghela, a helper.
The complainant, Chirag Patel, who has been working at the Kankariya lake as an assistant manager for the past five years and is responsible for managing and supervising the various facilities available at the lakefront, filed the FIR on Sunday, naming the six as the accused persons.
As per the complainant, the AMC, looking at a public-private partnership to manage various amusement parks at the lake, had issued tenders for the same in 2012. Thereafter, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd was selected on December 25, 2014. Meanwhile, between the first and tenth day of every month, monthly inspection reports have to be submitted to the zoo director by the operating agency. This was submitted by Superstar Amusement on July 6, 2019. A significant aspect of this report was the remarks under structural inspection, where it was commented, “nut bolt replace”.
Prima facie, as per documents accessed by The Indian Express, Superstar Amusement Pvt Ltd that had 23 rides operating at Kankariya lakefront, and all the other rides were given green light by the deputy executive engineer of the mechanical sub-division of the R&B department, Ahmedabad, on December 31, 2018. This inspection, in turn, granted the company a certificate from the mechanical division of the R&B department valid from January 1, 2019 until December 31, 2019. This is notable since the axis holding a swinging pendulum, broke off. The R&B department remained unavailable for comment despite several attempts.
Elaborating the licence process, Ahmedabad City Police Commissioner A K Singh said, “While the performance licence is issued by the police, the issuance is based on prerequisite documents that include certificate from the public works department and the electrical, mechanical and civil division of the state government’s roads and buildings (R&B) department. The certificates (from various divisions of the R&B) we get is an end-product and the process that they (R&B department) follow is an internal document that we are not privy to.”
When asked if the police have a separate wing to vet inspections conducted by the sub-divisional departments within the R&B department, Singh said, “R&B may have internally placed checks and balances. We do not have a separate wing to inspect such technical aspects. We’re duty bound to believe the department’s certification.”
However, the police commissioner acknowledged that the certification in this particular case did not suffice. “We did have a discussion with the members of the R&B department today (Monday) where we wanted to know the internal procedure followed by them for such certification and we gave our suggestions as to how to make this process more robust.”
One of the suggestions involved a requisite for such amusement parks/rides to fulfill a much more elaborate checklist. Singh said, “There are third-party agencies too with expertise in quality control. Either R&B can take help from such external agencies or they can build their own.”
Although at present only private persons have been booked, Singh added, “If there’s any agency found in lapse of their duty or negligent of their duties, action will be taken.”
City mayor Bijal Patel emphasised that no AMC official is prima facie responsible for this incident and if the R&B report had come to the corporation on July 6, the situation could have been averted.
Meanwhile, as of Monday evening, one 15-year-old boy, Tirth Bhavsar, who had been shifted to post-operative ward following amputation of his left leg, continued to be in critical condition, at the AMC-run LG Hospital. Assistant resident medical officer of the hospital, Dr Alap Shah, said, “Of the 29 who were admitted on Sunday following the mishap, one Taufik Pathan (20) was discharged on Monday. As of Monday evening, 10 patients are in the female orthopedic ward, six in the male orthopedic ward and 10 in the trauma ward. All are stable. Only two are in post-operative ward – Tirth Bhavsar and Mujammil Wajib of which only Tirth is in a critical condition.”
The two who were killed in the mishap were Rajpipla resident, Manali Marwadi (23), and Danilimda resident, Zaid Rafik Memon (22).
‘Parks like these should not be handed over to irresponsible managers’
A day after two people died and 15 others were injured after a joyride crashed at an amusement park in Ahmedabad Sunday, 23-year-old victim, Manali Rajwadi, was laid to rest in her native village of Taropa in Narmada district.
Manali’s father, Vimal Rajwadi, sought stringent punishment for those whose negligence caused the crash. He said, “My daughter was staying over in Ahmedabad at my sister’s place and they visited the theme park when the accident took place. It is a shock for us to lose our daughter in such a manner. She was a fun loving and ever smiling and happy girl. This accident is a reminder that parks like these should not be handed over to irresponsible managers. Whoever is responsible for its maintenance should be punished.”
Rajwadi, who oversaw Manali’s burial rituals as per Christian faith, said he would not like to see any other family suffer a tragedy like this. “My appeal to the government is to take stern action against the management of the park. No other family should lose a daughter like this and they should not wait for a tragedy to occur to take such steps.” (Express News Service)