Nimatighat boat-mishap: Extend Rs 25-lakh ex gratia to kin of victims, APCC to Dispur
The APCC (Assam Pradesh Congress Committee) has demanded that the State government must extend ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the next of kin of each of the boat-mishap victims in Majuli
GUWAHATI: The APCC (Assam Pradesh Congress Committee) has demanded that the State government must extend ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the next of kin of each of the boat-mishap victims in Majuli — the largest riverine island of the world.
The State Congress has also demanded that the BJP-led State Government must also immediately give a statement on the status of the RoRo Ferry Service and also provide update on the proposed bridge in Majuli.
The APCC statement on Thursday added, "An estimate of Rs 925.47 crore is reported to have been sanctioned and the work has been awarded to M/s UP State Bridge Corporation Limited. What is the progress report of the money being sanctioned and utilized?
"Further the Government should make regulations on the life and license of ferries and boat that are plying on the Brahmaputra as well. Attention should also be given to ensure that only licensed ferry drivers are allowed to sail the ferries. The Government should also make provision of life jackets on ferries and boats and make mandatory the use of such life-saving equipment for the travellers on such vessels.
"Presence of 'rescuers' on boats should be mandatory. The River Police team and SDRF & NDRF personnel should be strategically stationed in river routes for the prevention of mishaps.
Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Rajiv Bhawan here on Wednesday, APCC president Bhupen Kumar Borah told the BJP-led State government, "Enough of 'Bhumi Puja' and 'Namami Brahmaputra'. Concentrate on real issues."
The APCC also expressed its deepest condolences to the family of young lecturer Porimita Das of Guwahati who lost her life in the extremely unfortunate and tragic accident that occurred between ferries at Nimatighat in Jorhat on September 8, 2021. The APCC also prayed that those missing will be recovered soon.
A press release of the Assam Congress said, "The precautions that should have been taken by the BJP Government all over Assam on IWT (Inland Water Transport) after this incident was simply not visible when the ferry accident happened in Nimatighat.
"Firstly, no provisions of safety kits like life jackets, swimming tubes were seen which should have been available immediately at the time of crisis. The presence of rescuers was also not visible. As per news reports help from SDRF and NDRF took one hour to reach the site of the disaster. During the season of floods, is it not mandatory for river transport authorities to monitor water transport activities to prevent any such mishap? Do Nimatighat and Majuli have a functioning river police station?
"Secondly, how could two boats/ ferries collide in broad daylight, in good weather conditions? Does the Inland Water Transport Department have properly marked navigation routes or not? Do they have licensed boat /ferry drivers? Who is monitoring the load of the ferries as allegations are also rife that ferries and boats are always overloaded? Who is monitoring the life of the water vessels whether they are in good condition for carrying passengers? It is a matter of shame that Bikramaditya Choudhury who is an i/c Executive Engineer of the IWT Department is an officer who has been suspended twice in three years for negligence of duty. He was suspended at the time of the North Guwahati incident. So why is he reinstated repeatedly in responsible positions where people's lives are at stake?
"Thirdly, we have seen how the BJP Government have made numerous electoral promises to the people of Majuli and Jorhat time and again; but, these remained as promises only. In 2016 itself we saw how Union Minister Sri Nitin Gadkari had laid the foundation of a bridge from Majuli to Jorhat but it did not get any further from that for five long years.
"The then CM late Tarun Gogoi had remarked, "The foundation stone-laying of the bridge by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in 2016 over Majuli without preparing the DPRs has exposed that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is out to hoodwink people with an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections. I have never seen a Central government like the present one going on a foundation stone-laying spree without preparing the DPRs.'
"Fourthly, the Ro-RO (Roll on Roll off) service was inaugurated by then CM, Sarbananda Sonowal at Kamalabari Ghat on October 11, 2018. The Ro-Ro vessel named 'MB Bhupen Hazarika' was built at Rs 9.46 crore by IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India). It could carry over 100 passengers along with 8 trucks. It is unfortunate that to date the Ro-Ro service is not operational for reasons best known to the Government of Assam.
"Fifthly, the greatest betrayal has come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself who flagged off the Ro-Ro Ferry Service with much fanfare once again just before Assembly Elections of 2021 but what happened after nobody knows.
"Lastly, similarly just before Assembly elections of 2021 Union Minister Nitin Gadkari did Bhumi Puja and once again laid the foundation stone of the same bridge between Majuli and Nimatighat! It is extremely tragic that the BJP Government remembers the long-standing demand of the bridge only during elections and conveniently forgets about it after elections.
"These launching and relaunching programs in Majuli by the BJP only prove that the BJP considers the people of Majuli and Assam as someone whom they can fool all the time with false promises. They think that public memory is short hence they can lay the foundation stone for the same project twice or thrice and people will just accept it. But people of Assam are not fools. They are conscious citizens observant citizens who cannot be taken for a ride all the time.
"Lives of people are more precious than promises. BJP must remember this. The lives of innocent people have been lost and they need to be accountable for it. Enough of Bhumi Pujan and Namami Brahmaputra of the BJP Government. They should concentrate on lives of common people of Assam.