The government had promised them the bridge that would have saved lives, but it did not come up, he said.
In 2016, Union transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had laid the foundation of a bridge from Majuli connecting Jorhat and Lakhimpur district in the south and north. In February this year, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the construction of the bridge, which the Opposition had slammed as a tactic to win the hearts of the people of the riverine island before the assembly election.
State Congress president Bhupen Borah has blamed the BJP-led government for the failure to complete the bridge five years after the foundation stone was laid. “We have seen how the BJP government has made numerous electoral promises to the people of Majuli and Jorhat. In 2016, Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation of the bridge. The former chief minister Tarun Gogoi had remarked at that time that the bridge was coming up without a detailed project report,” said Borah in a news conference here on Thursday.
Assam PCC has demanded that the BJP government immediately pays an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh to each of the victim families of the Neamatighat accident. “I have never seen a central government like the present one going on a foundation stone-laying spree without even preparing DPRs,” he said.
“Lessons were not learnt from the unfortunate boat capsize that happened in north Guwahati in September 2018. The precautions that should have been taken by the BJP government all over Assam after this incident were simply not visible when the ferry accident happened,” Borah added.
“As per news reports, help from SDRF and NDRF took an hour to reach the site of the disaster. During the season of floods, is it not mandatory for river transport authorities to monitor water transport activities? Do Neamatighat and Majuli have river police stations?” Borah wondered.
He also questioned whether the Inland Water Transport Department had properly marked navigation routes. “How could two ferries collide in daylight in good weather conditions? Do they have licensed ferry drivers? Who is monitoring the load of the ferries as allegations are also rife that ferries and boats are always overloaded,” Borah asked.
The Roll on Roll off (Ro-Ro) service was inaugurated by then chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal at Kamalabari Ghat on October 11, 2018. The Ro-Ro vessel named MV Bhupen Hazarika was built at a cost of Rs 9.46 crore by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and had a capacity to carry over 100 passengers along with eight trucks. “It is unfortunate that till date the Ro-Ro service is not operational for reasons best known to the government of Assam,” he added.