Dhubri boat capsize: Why there was no safety on the boat?

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Sanju Das, 32, Dhubri revenue circle officer who was also on board with other staff has gone missing since the capsize
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Guwahati: At a time when the state government has been asking commuters and even boat operators to strictly follow safety norms, Thursday’s boat capsize on the Brahmaputra river in Dhubri district has received major attention as a government official went missing in the accident. Reportedly none of the passengers on the boat was wearing life jackets.

As per the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), a team of officials had gone on a field visit in the district and was on their way back when the boat accidentally they were travelling hit an underwater pillar of the Dhubri-Fulbari bridge, which is under construction and capsized.

Sanju Das, 32, Dhubri revenue circle officer who was also on board with other staff has gone missing since the capsize. His whereabouts were yet to be known till the filing of this report. As per ASDMA, some 9-10 people were missing.

Dhubri’s additional deputy commissioner (ADC), Manash Kumar Saikia told TIME8 that circle official, lot Mondal and ASDMA field officer among other 29 passengers who were in field verification were suspected to have overlooked the general safety measures required while travelling in a boat.

“It was an unscheduled boat ride. The team was on field inspection at the Fulbari bridge. Normally, they would have travelled in a vehicle through the makeshift bridge, but after finding that the approach route of the bridge is broken, they might have decided to travel on a boat. Though workers of a construction company building a bridge nearby reportedly asked them to avoid sailing on the boat, the officials reportedly boarded the boat,” said ADC Saikia.

ASDMA rescue personnel said that the water channel where the incident happened was some 50 metres long from one bank to the other.

The Dhubri ADC further claimed that they normally ensure that whenever an official goes out for an inspection or any field duty on the riverside, one should travel in a marine engine boat- (two engines with reverse gear), and all passengers will have to wear life jackets are a must and ensure there is a life buoy (buoyant device for keeping people afloat in an emergency).

The incident also surprised chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. He said, “Normally such country boats are only allowed to transport goods and cargos. We will have to enquire on what condition the circle officer and other officials resorted to travelling in a country boat.”

A large number of people in Assam have been using waterways on daily basis for commuting. Despite the state government has been claiming to revamp the water transport system in the state keeping its safety norms in concern, boats are often seen plying flouting safety norms. Wearing of life jackets by passengers is yet to be adhered strictly.

Also Read: Troubled Waters: Assam’s Shambling Water Transports System; 26 Boat Capsizes since 2019

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