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Nimatighat ferry accident: Majulians blame it on the administration

Students and xatradhikars of Majuli blame the administration and the Inland Water Transport Department (IWTD) for the tragic Nimatighat ferry accident.

Nimatighat ferry accident

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  10 Sep 2021 3:39 AM GMT

 Demand for early completion of the Jorhat-Majuli bridge rends the air


GUWAHATI: Students and xatradhikars of Majuli blame the administration and the Inland Water Transport Department (IWTD) for the tragic Nimatighat ferry accident.

During the last five years, the Government of India first provided two Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) cargo vessels for Majuli only to take them back after a few months. The Centre then provided RoPax, an acronym used to describe ships that combine roll-on/roll-off features for the carriage of private cars and commercial vehicles with the provision of accommodation spaces for the carriage of passengers. A sorry state of affairs is that the RoPax vessels remained idle in Nimatighat. Despite laying the foundation stone twice, there has been no progress in the Jorhat-Majuli Bridge.

Talking to The Sentinel, Xatradhilar Dr Pitambar Dev Goswami of Auniati Xatra said, "The Jorhat-Majuli Bridge has to come up at any cost. When Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visited Majuli after taking the oath, we requested him to speed up its work like the Guwahati-North Guwahati Bridge. If he completes the bridge early, the Chief Minister will get profound blessings from the people of Majuli. From time immemorial, the people of Majuli have been bearing the brunt of ferries.

"The Chief Minister said today that the work of this bridge would start from November this year. We request him to compile the materials needed for the bridge now. That will assuage the people that the bridge will come up. After taking the oath, the Chief Minister did a lot of good works. He is an energetic man. If he puts pressure on the Centre, the bridge will certainly see the light of the day. This bridge will make him a darling of the people of Majuli.

"The authority should make the two Ro-Pax vessels operational and provide lifejacket to every passenger. Before every voyage, the ferry crew should give regular tips on what the passengers should do in emergencies. Aircrew does this before every flight."

Talking to The Sentinel, Majuli District Students' Union (MDSU) general secretary Bitupan Sarma said, "The first BJP-led Government at Dispur gave RoRo vessels to ferry passengers between Majuli and Jorhat. However, the government took the two RoRo vessels back and provided two RoPax vessels only to lie idle in the parghat. The RoRo vessels did give good service by ferrying both people and goods.

"The government then provided RoPax vessels for Majuli that can ferry many passengers and goods, including cars. However, these vessels have since been lying idle in the parghat. The people have no way out but to use private ferries, risking their lives.

"Unfortunately, despite laying the foundation stone twice, there has been little progress in the construction of the Jorhat-Majuli Bridge. The government should complete the Jorhat-Majuli as soon as possible for the safety of the people of Majuli."

Devicharan Barua Girls' College Students' Union president Shashwati Sabhapondit said, "The government, the district administration and some organizations are responsible for such tragedies. When a move was going on for a bridge connecting Jorhat and Majuli, some organizations opposed it. Their view was that the bridge would desecrate the heritage of the river island. We need to go ahead with time.

"The district administration has no control over the ferries. It does not monitor when the ferries leave, how many people they take at a time and if they take safety measures.

"During his first stint as a Union minister, former chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal did make the people of Majuli dream a sweet dream with the laying of the foundation stone of a bridge between Majuli and Jorhat. In May 2016, he became the Chief Minister and got a full term during which he could have completed the bridge. He, however, did not do that. That made the government lay the foundation of the bridge in 2021 again."

Shashwati Sabhapondit hails from Phulani in Majuli. The Central Government laid the first foundation stone of the bridge on February 27, 2016, when Congress was in power at Dispur and the NDA at the Centre. The Central Government laid the foundation stone of the bridge again on February 18, 2021.

The length of the bridge is 6.8 km, with a project cost of Rs 925.47 crore. The Centre awarded the work of the bridge to M/s UP State Bridge Corporation Ltd.

Also read: After the Nimati Ghat Boat Tragedy, Construction of Majuli-Jorhat Bridge to Start From Nov 2021

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