| AJYCP activists burn tyres at Neematighat in Jorhat on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, May 14: The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, a youth organisation, called a 12-hour Neemati strike today against non-monitoring of ferries by the inland water transport department (IWTD). The organisation also demanded that private players be allowed to operate ferry services under the department.
Ferries to and from Majuli did not ply today because of the strike that began from 6am.
Jorhat district president of the AJYCP Siba Kolita alleged that there was no monitoring of ferries and lessees who were in charge of the three ghats under the IWTD had a free run.
“We have been demanding for quite some time that the lessee system should be abolished and the IWTD operate ferries of its own. If the IWTD is not capable of doing this then a system should be followed like the one chalked out by the Assam State Transport Corporation where private buses are allowed to run under the ASTC,” Kolita said.
Kolita said the system should be such that ferries run on an hourly basis and there should be different classes of ferries such as general and first class. According to Kolita, there should be separate ferries for goods and vehicles.
The AJYCP also pointed out that despite the Dhubri boat tragedy there were very few lifebuoys aboard the ferries that plied between Majuli and Neemati.
“Although these ferries have a capacity of carrying about 110 people each, there are only about five to six buoys,” Kolita said.
Erosion was another problem which the youth organisation protested against. It demanded a permanent geo-tube embankment be constructed instead of setting up of porcupines and spurs which get washed away after a couple of years.
Executive engineer of the IWTD, A. Rahman, denied that IWTD personnel did not man the Neemati, Kamalabari and Aphalamukh — the three ghats under it.
“After the Dhubri boat capsize this was being done on a very strict basis,” Rahman said. He, however, said he would not be able to say whether ferries were being overloaded in Salmora, Bogoriguri and Dakhinpaat, the other three ghats run by panchayats.
On the lifebuoys, he said a new proposal was being prepared seeking more lifebuoys.
Rahman agreed that erosion at Neemati was a great problem and that large chunks of the bank went under it and it is even dangerous to stand too close to the river.
“Earlier at Neemati, the river was about 200 metres away from the bank but now it is hardly 50 metres away. The ferries have to dock at different places because of erosion,” he said.
On privatisation of ferries, he said the deputy commissioner, Jorhat, had sent a similar proposal to the principal secretary, transport, Guwahati, in February and this had the backing of Upper Assam commissioner S. I. Hussain but as this entailed huge planning and investment it could not be done at the IWTD level.