Nava J Thakuria
Guwahati: Expressing profound grief over the demise of a college teacher (Parimita Das, a resident of Kahilipara in the city), who drowned following the boat accident on mighty river Brahmaputra near Nimatighat in Jorhat on Wednesday, All Assam Engineer’s Association (AAEA) demands a complete revamping of water transport services in the State.
Assam government has already suspended three officials belonging to the Inland Water Transport department following the incident of boat capsizing and instituted a high-level probe into the accident. The mishap occurred following a head-on collision between a ferry and a machine-boat in the afternoon hours. NDRF and SDRF personnel have rescued the lives of over 100 passengers (some are still missing).
The forum of graduate engineers, in a media statement, argues that the Nimatighat boat capsizing was an example of complete failure in the traffic management where the authorised officials avoided their call (to decide) on time. Moreover, the IWT department should have increased the number of ramps at the site according the demand of daily passengers on Nimatighat-Majui water rout, it added.
Unlike a motor vehicle, the machine boat uses its propeller (that moves in one direction to produce forward thrust) without a braking device, pointed out by the forum, adding that it is always a difficult task for the rider to suddenly stop a machine boat (also turn into a particular direction) while sailing on water. On the other hand, a mechanised ferryboat has the arrangement to move its propeller in the opposite direction (to produce the effect of a brake).
“So, the double engine arrangement, as prescribed by State chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, will not serve the purpose fully unless it has the mechanism to move the propeller in opposite direction too,” said AAEA president Er Kailash Sarma, working president Er Nava J. Thakuria and secretary Er Inamul Hye adding that the department should technically supervise the private boat service, particularly on Brahmaputra because of its specific water flow.
AAEA finally appeals to passengers to demand life jackets compulsorily from the operators and check the availability of sufficient number of life-saving buoys (designed to be thrown to a person in water to provide buoyancy and prevent drowning) while boarding on ferryboats for their own safety. Moreover, the forum added, passengers should be offered tickets before the journey and the ongoing system of providing tickets in the middle of it must be stopped.