Jorhat: The horrific Majuli boat tragedy that claimed the life of one and several others missing, shook the consciousness of the people of Assam, forcing them to pour out their vexation on the government and the Inland Water Transport department for not taking proper steps for the safety of the boat passengers.
A boat named ‘ Maa Kamala’ which reportedly belongs to a private sector was traveling to Majuli while a government passenger ferry of the Inland Water Transport department, which was mainly carrying goods, was coming from Majuli to Nimati Ghat.
Reportedly, there were 100-120 people on the boat which is way more than the capacity of a ferry. The ferry also carried motorbikes, cars, and, cycles which were washed away in the tragic incident.
82 people have been rescued in the operation so far while 1 person is reported to be dead while 7 are missing.
According to reports, very minimal safety measures were taken and only 5-6 people on board were wearing a life safety jacket. The boats were not maintained nor were the dockyards. It is also to be mentioned that there isn’t even a proper office of the IWT department in that area.
100’s of people were out on the streets of Majuli to protest against the while many are blaming the Government for the incident.
Meanwhile, Assam Power Minister Bimal Bora who had gone to take stock of the situation in the river island faced huge protest by the residents of Majuli. People tried to block his vehicle and raised Bimal Bora Go Back slogans.
Bimal Bora was stopped from moving ahead and people made him sit on the streets of the river island for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visited Nimatighat to take stock of the incident on Thursday morning. He said that the ferries which run on single engines will be suspended from today and the ferries will be upgraded to double engines. Fund of Rs 10 Lakh will be provided for the same.
Assam CM also informed that a criminal report has been lodged on the incident.
In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed Congress Government for not constructing a bridge in Majuli for 60 years and said it is nothing but injustice.
Back in February this year, PM Modi laid the foundation stone for a 2-lane major bridge over Majuli’s Kamalabari and Jorhat’s Nimatighat on NH-715K costing Rs 925.47 crore.
Since the foundation stone was laid just before the Assam Assembly Elections 2021 in February, no work has been done on the bridge. Reports say that two JCBs were brought to the location claiming that the work on the bridge has been started but later both the JCBs were taken back without even 0.0001% work done.
Moreover, this is not the first boat incident reported in Assam. In 2012, there was a major accident in Dhubri and according to several reports, at least 103 people lost their lives and 100 people remained missing.
There was another boat accident in Guwahati back in 2018 which took three lives and two remained missing. The IWT department said that a total of 24 passengers were on board but the passengers claimed that there were more than 40.
During the incident in Dhubri, the Assam Inland Water Transport Department which was under the Tarun Gogoi Government at that time said that the boat was not registered with it.
The incidents are an indication and show the real side of Inland Water Transport. Yes, we cannot blame just one Government for all the incidents but the flawed system of the IWT needs a complete assessment.
Strict action should be taken by the authorities and the only suspension of the officials is not the only solution. The registered boats should be re-checked and all safety measures have to be taken to ensure the safety of all the passengers.
Meanwhile, today will be observed as a Black Day in Majuli, and the people of Majuli will offer tribute to the people who lost their lives in the Tragic Accident.
People are out on the streets in full swing and as per the latest reports, police have lathi-charged the people in Majuli.
So who should be blamed for the incident? The Assam Government or the Assam Inland Water Transport Department.?