Photo: Arun Nilambur | Mathrubhumi
Ponnani: The boat 'Atlantic', which was involved in the accident in Tanur, was originally a fibre boat that underwent a major facelift at a yard in Ponnani.
Before Nasser bought the 'Atlantic' boat for Rs 95,000, it was called 'Kunjalimarakkar Shaheed' and owned by a Palapetty native Hamsa. The fisherfolk in the area assert that the boat was originally a 'Dappa Vallam', primarily used for fishing at short distances from the shore. However, the chief surveyor of Kerala Maritime Board viewed that there was no issue in converting a fishing boat for tourist purposes by adopting the required changes.
Nasser, who is currently in police custody, spent nearly Rs 8 lakh to modify the fibre boat to a double-decker. He also frequently visited the yard where Ponnani native Kabeer, acting as an intermediary, oversaw the renovation.
Although 'Atlantic' allegedly flouted several norms, the boat owner did file a request for a fitness certificate. Later, a surveyor from the Maritime Board in Alappuzha visited Tanur and conducted an inspection. After finding several issues, the officer directed the boat owner to make changes.
Sometime later, another inspection was conducted after Nasser informed officials that they had made the necessary changes as per the surveyor's recommendation. However, the owner launched the tourist boat services last month before the result of the inspection came out.
Maritime Board officials said that the boat owner fooled everyone by using a registration number, KIV/BOR99/23, given when they applied for a fitness certificate.