Owning up to a disaster

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

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Owning up to a disaster

Sidharth Bedi Varma | September 10, 2018 15:45 hrs


The distance between North Guwahati and Guwahati can either be traversed by a 15 minute ferry ride or a 40 minute drive over the Saraighat. In the peak of the Brahmaputra being swollen up, it took a tragedy involving an unregulated ferry, and several deaths for everyone to say, “Hey, this negligence has gone on for far too long!” 


It is very evident that the Inland Water Transport Department took travelling over the Brahmaputra too leniently. If all our songs praise that we are a city “luit’or paarote”, why did no one think of the repercussions that come with it? The Assam Government has clearly ignored the perils of water travel for far too long.


Unregulated local ferries on Brahmaputra have been traversing the water with no safety or check in place. It is clear that the IWT Department chosen to turn a blind eye towards this because someone has been filling their pockets.


There are tens of thousands of people who travel to and fro North Guwahati every day, and yet, no one cared for the safety of these people. The incoming and outgoing DCs have never raised this query in the past either; while everyone sitting in their offices at Kachari are too busy enjoying the view. 


These boats have always been overloaded because for the unregulated ferry, a Rs 10 ticket makes financial sense – after all, they’ve gotta pay it to their bosses ahead.


Where have the police been in all of this? How many times has there been a raid to check licences and permissions of the boatmen? Who in the past 6 months has officially ensured that the boats meet the safety standards?


The construction of a new bridge over the Brahmaputra is certainly a welcome announcement, but here’s hoping that it doesn’t stay stuck like that ‘one lone pillar’ in the middle of the Brahmaputra saying that it is meant for the ropeway project.

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