Dhubri, July 1: Police seized an engine-fitted boat (bhutbhuti) last night at Dhubri ghat and arrested the boatman for violating rules and ferrying passengers and goods.
The Dhubri district administration, because of the rise in the water level of the Brahmaputra, has promulgated Section 144 CrPC prohibiting the movement of boats in the river last week. The Goalpara district administration, too, prohibited the movement of boats after the mishap at Kathalbari in which five persons drowned on June 28.
People of Medattari village under Jamadarhat gaon panchayat have been opposing leasing out the ghat to the lessee and instead demanded the ghat to be operated by inland water transport (IWT) department.
Ansar Ali Sheikh of Jamadarhat said even after the Medattari incident, the gaon panchayat invited tenders to lease out the ghat.
“People of Medattari village and all the villages of Jamadarhat gaon panchayat tried to stop the tender,” Sheikh alleged.
A source in Jamadarhat goan panchayat said people had been opposing submission of tenders invited for leasing out the Medattari ghat since last week.
An enforcement team formed after the Medattari boat mishap headed by Dhubri SDO (civil), Romen Chandra Malakar, said they had seized 39 shallow boats without papers from Pathar and Jogamaya ghats in the town.
“We are continuing our efforts to streamline the river transportation system, including making registration and insurance a mandatory condition, and have made headway. We are hopeful that things will improve within a couple of months,” Malakar said.
He said after the water level of the Brahmaputra recedes, IWT would operate its own boats in the river connecting vital destinations in the district.
Dhubri IWT sectional officer Prafulla Kalita said after the drive of streamlining the movement of boats since May, 39 boats have been seized and penalised.
“Beside this, 615 applications have been submitted by the boat owners seeking registration and fitness certificates. Moreover, 20 applications of boat owners found to fulfil norms and conditions have already been forwarded to the IWT director’s office in Guwahati for necessary action,” Kalita added.
Goalpara additional deputy commissioner Lutfar Rahman said at present, the movement of boats has been prohibited but after the water level recedes, it would be allowed again.