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Assam Ferry Tragedy: Congress demands Govt to release Rs 25 lakh ex gratia for kin of deceased

GUWAHATI:  Assam Congress has demanded the BJP-led government to immediately pay ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh each to the deceased person’s families.

Issuing a release, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Borah said that the precautions that should have been taken by the BJP Government all over Assam on Inland water transport after a similar incident in 2018 “were 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 disaster,” the Assam Congressman said.

“During flood season is it not mandatory for river transport authorities to monitor water transport activities in order to prevent any such mishap?  Do Nimatighat and Majuli have a functioning river police station is another big question,” he queried.

“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?,” he asked, before launching a scathing attack at Bikramaditya Choudhury who is i/c Executive Engineer of Inland Water Transport Department for his alleged “negligence.”

ALSO READ: Assam: Two ferries collide in at Nimati ghat, Jorhat; around 65 missing after ferry sinks

“In 2016 itself we saw how Union Minister Sri Nitin Gadkari had laid the foundation of a bridge from Majuli to Jothat but it did not get any further for five long years,” he said, adding, “just before Assembly elections of 2021 Union Minister Sri Nitin Gadkari did Bhumi Puja and once again  laid the foundation stone of the same bridge between Majuli and Nimatighat.”

The APCC chief further questioned why the  Roll on Roll off (Ro-Ro) service that was inaugurated by then CM Sarbananda Sonowal at Kamalabari Ghat on October 11, 2018, built at a cost of Rs. 9.46 Cr by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is still not operational.

“They must also immediately give a statement on the status of the RoRo Ferry Service and also update on the proposed Bridge. An estimate of Rs 925.47 Cr. is reported to have been sanctioned and the work has been awarded to M/s UP State Bridge corporation Limited.”

“Further the Government should make regulations on the life & 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,” he added.

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