AATSU demands probe into corruption in IWT department

By our Staff Reporter

Lakhimpur, July 16: The All Assam Tribal Students’ Union has demanded an investigation into the Inland Water Transport Department for alleged corruption and collection of unfair travel rates from the people travelling in the Dhakuwakha and Gunsuthi route by Sunbansiri-Ghagar ferry service.

AATSU submitted a memorandum against the InLand Water Transport Department on July 5 this year to the district administration and asked the present government to take action in the matter within a period of 10 days. Yet, the government has not given any response. On July 15, AATSU along with Lakhimpur District Committee held a meeting for public awareness about the alleged negligence and unreasoble action of the Inland Water Transport Department.

AATSU has demanded the suspension of the executive engineer of the Inland Water Transport Department of Dibrugarh, renovation of the roads in the backward villages of Lakhimpur and other districts of Assam, providing steel ferries for the safety of the people, providing teachers in the government schools, especially in schools with one teacher, and providing receipts to the people travelling by ferries with proper fare printed on them and declaring floods in Lakhimpur as a tiol problem.

The prime demand of AATSU is to construct a bridge between Dhauwakha and Gunsuthi as it is of utmost necessity for the people of the region, as stated in the press release of AATSU.

“The legal fare rates of Inland Water Transport Department’s Subansiri-Ghagar ferry service are Rs 4 per person, Rs 3 for bicycle and Rs 7-Rs 9 for bike. But the department collects fares at reasoble rates from the people. They charge more than Rs 100 from poor people,” Nirmal Taid, central president of AATSU said.

“The Ghagar Ferry Ghat has been closed down by our union until the government settles this matter. According to an Right To Information (RTI) report, the Inland Water Transport Department has 18 to 20 employees but they are nowhere to be seen in the Ghagar Ferry Ghat. The attendance of these employees is being maged and they simply take their salary by staying at home. The ferries are in their worst condition and at any moment accidents can happen. Already few accidents have taken place in the past. There are no emergency speed boats. The government should provide steel ferries.  The contracts are given to the contractors in lessee but this should be stopped because it has been proved that much corruption has been done in the past and it is still going on till date. Although many complaints have been lodged and protests have been organized, there has been no response from the government,” he added.

Taid further said, “The flood-affected people living the embankments of Subansiri River deserve to get land rights for their land but the government is neglecting their right to live. They are even deprived from sustaible drinking water and proper food.  In regard to the NHPC big dam issue, the government should stop and prevent the construction of the dam as it will never be beneficial for the people of Assam. If the government does not resolve these problems the AATSU will be forced to take up strict action like various forms of protests.”

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