When joyrides turn tragic

According to stakeholders in the business, adventure sports and activities in India are largely unchecked, unregulated and unaudited. Legal experts have pointed out that setting up an adventure sports business in India requires just a few licences from the Municipality - namely a No Objection Certificate for pollution, health and food licences.
When joyrides turn tragic
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The idea of an adventurous outing in India seems to be riddled with risks of a deadly kind.

The reports of three fatalities that took place in a cable car accident last week in the Trikut Hills in Deogarh district, Jharkhand shocked many.

While two people were killed in the collision of the cable cars, another succumbed as a result of falling into a ditch in the midst of a rescue operation by the NDRF.

Unfortunately, this is not the first such instance of faulty equipment leading to the deaths of people or the sustaining of grievous injuries at adventure zones, and it might not be the last.

Three years ago, at an amusement park in Ahmedabad, two people lost their lives and 28 people were injured after their joyride, which swung like a pendulum, detached and crashed to the ground.

Here in Chennai, at an adventure park situated near Poonamallee, 16 people were injured as a result of a mishap involving a ride called the Free Fall Tower. The platform to which the riders were strapped in, was supported by steel cables that snapped, hurtling the structure ten feet down.

Thankfully, there were no fatalities. Even our neighbouring city of Bengaluru witnessed a tragic incident in 2009 when a young marine engineer fell to his death after his bungee cord malfunctioned.

According to stakeholders in the business, adventure sports and activities in India are largely unchecked, unregulated and unaudited. Legal experts have pointed out that setting up an adventure sports business in India requires just a few licences from the Municipality - namely a No Objection Certificate for pollution, health and food licences.

It is worth noting that there are currently no specific laws in the country that govern and regulate the industry, or offers a provision for regular safety audits, or a mechanism for checking or auditing the safety of the equipment, or even provides an option for investigations into serious accidents.

The only framework so to speak has been provided by the non-profit organisation called Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries. The group helps promote safety regulations for the smooth functioning of the industry, and a detailed set of guidelines formulated by them has been adopted by the government’s Bureau of Indian Standards, which is applicable to parks of a permanent or portable nature.

The only drawback is that these standards are only suggestive in nature and there is no government mandate that needs to be followed by the management in terms of safety audits.

Interestingly, things might be changing for the better as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned. In January this year, the Madras High Court sought a response from the State government on a PIL asking for the formation of rules and regulations for the safety of people visiting amusement parks here.

The Secretary of Tamil Nadu Tourism Department was impleaded as a party to the case, and queries pertaining to the availability of emergency response, first aid, and doctors at such facilities as well as the periodic maintenance of such parks were posed by the High Court bench.

It’s essential that the Centre and State governments look at the safety aspects of the amusement park industry with a hawk eye.

As a multi-million dollar revenue stream for the tourism industry which is still reeling from the pandemic impact, the parks and recreation business can give a massive impetus to domestic travellers, provided they are given the confidence that rides in India are as safe as the ones abroad.

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