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AAEA (All Assam Engineer's Association) bats for revamping of water-transport services

Expressing profound grief over the demise of a college teacher (Parimita Das, a resident of Kahilipara in the city), who drowned following the boat accident in the Brahmaputra near Nimatighat

All Assam Engineers Association

Sentinel Digital Desk

GUWAHATI: Expressing profound grief over the demise of a college teacher (Parimita Das, a resident of Kahilipara in the city), who drowned following the boat accident in the Brahmaputra near Nimatighat in Jorhat on Wednesday, the AAEA (All Assam Engineer's Association) has called for a complete revamping of the State's water transport services.

Following the incident of boat capsize, the Assam government suspended three officials of the IWT (Inland Water Transport) Department and also instituted a high-level probe into the boat mishap. The mishap occurred when a government ferry collided with a privately operated machine-boat in the afternoon hours. The NDRF and SDRF personnel rescued the lives of over 100 passengers even though some among them are yet to be traced.

The forum of graduate engineers, in a media statement, has argued that the incident of boat capsizing at Nimatighat was an example of complete failure in the traffic management where the authorised IWT officials avoided their call (to decide) on time. There are wild allegations about the practices of some officials to allow private boats to operate on prime time instead of the department run ferries for personal gains.

The department could have increased the number of ramps at the site according to the demand of daily passengers on Nimatighat-Majuli water route, it commented, adding that the Department now should consider

erecting separate ramps for departure and arrival of vessels in all riverine locations across the State, stated a press release.

Narrating the operational mode of machine boats, the forum pointed out that, unlike a motor vehicle, those vessels have no braking devices, as the propellers used in those boats move in one direction only to produce the forward thrust. So, it is always a difficult task for the rider to suddenly stop a machine boat (also turn into a particular direction) while sailing on the water and thus the driver's skill and the experience becomes very important.

On the other hand, a mechanized ferryboat has the arrangement to move its propeller in the opposite direction (to produce the effect of a brake). Lately, State chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has also spoken about using marine engines (with the provision to move the propeller in opposite direction) for the boats with the announcement of government subsidies for upgrading the plying machine-boats on various routes, which is a welcomed move, stated the forum.

"We believe the revamped IWT department should be entrusted the responsibility to technically supervise the private boats and also their services as its undertakings. All the vessels plying on the Brahmaputra should be mechanised efficiently considering the erratic water flow of the river," said the statement endorsed by AAEA president Er Kailash Sarma, working president Er Nava J. Thakuria and secretary Er Inamul Hye.

The AAEA has also appealed to the passengers to demand life jackets compulsorily from the operators and check the availability of a sufficient number of life-saving buoys (designed to be thrown to a person in the water to provide buoyancy and prevent drowning) while boarding on ferryboats for their safety. Moreover, the forum added, passengers should be offered tickets before the journey and the ongoing system of providing tickets in the middle of it must be stopped, added the press release.

Also Read: 'I screamed, but nobody came to rescue my husband', says Ruprekha wife of missing Indraswar Bora

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