GUWAHATI, Sept 15: Opposition Congress has asked the Assam government to “remove all discrepancies” in the inland water transport (IWT) department so that thousands of people travelling by boats everyday are assured of their right to life.
“We demand that all discrepancies in the department and all hazards be removed so that the thousands of people travelling by boats daily are assured of their right to life,” Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia told reporters on Wednesday.
Saikia pointed out that the Rs 1000-crore fund from World Bank meant for upgrading the IWT department has not resulted in any improvement in the past five years and a number of lives have been lost in boat accidents, the latest being the ferry capsize at Nimatighat in which three passengers have lost their lives.
“In 2018, the present transport minister had visited Majuli and promised that water transport facilities would be improved, 12 jetties constructed and night operation of boats would be done in a scientific manner. But the announcements remained as mere promises only,” Saikia said.
“Moreover, it was found that operation of the Ro-Ro and Ro-Pax vessels sourced from Holland is not suitable on the Brahmaputra. It was necessary to make certain design changes in the modern vessels to enable them for operation in the Brahmaputra but the government did not pay heed. As a result, the vessels cannot ply during all seasons,” he said.
“The most disconcerting fact remains that there have been no marine engineers in the IWT department since 2010,” he added.