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Opp. paddles for boat mishap probe

Ranchi, Dec. 17: The Opposition today expressed grief over the deaths of four persons in Sunday’s boat capsize in Ranchi Lake and demanded an inquiry into the incident to fix blame.

Raising the matter in the second half of the day in the Assembly, JVM legislator Pradeep Yadav alleged the government was trying to shield tourism secretary Sajal Chakraborty, who was also on the overloaded boat that capsized but was lucky enough to escape with little injury.

“Survivors said Chakraborty was steering the motorboat. But the government is trying to shield him. It should be checked if he has a licence to steer a boat,” Yadav said.

BJP legislator C.P. Singh slammed the government for its failure to ensure proper safety measures for recreational boating.

Wondering how mandatory security guidelines, such as making all passengers wear life jackets and keeping enough in stock, were ignored at an event where VIPs (Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay and tourism secretary Chakraborty) had been invited, Singh said the incident exposed the utter callousness of the government.

“Such incidents are taking place in Ranchi as well as other districts frequently. It proves the government is not serious (about hauling up violators),” he said.

Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta expressed his concern and asked the government to take up the issue seriously.

Later, amid protests from the Opposition, the House passed the second supplementary budget of Rs 1,327.84 crore.

In the first half, the Speaker was forced to adjourn the House for 10 minutes when BJP members entered the Well, seeking probe into alleged underhand dealings worth Rs 500 crore of the state government related to sand bed auctions.

When the House resumed business, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Prasad Singh assured the Opposition that his government was not averse to holding a special debate on the issue, provided the Assembly’s business advisory committee approved it.

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, panchayati raj minister Chandra Shekhar Dubey said: “The impasse over sand ghat auctions is over. The cabinet decided to hand over management of riverbanks to panchayati raj bodies. The Opposition doesn’t have a genuine issue for grouse.”

Congress MLA Dubey had publicly alleged misdeeds in sand ghat auctions a few weeks ago. This was before chief minister Hemant Soren gave in to the allies’ demand to nullify the auction and hand sand mines over to the panchayats.

On the issue of arbitrary use of beacon lights, especially by bureaucrats and politicians, the Speaker said he would carefully go through the rules and regulations and take appropriate action soon.

BJP member C.P. Singh sought to know the status of compensation and jobs offered to the next-of-kin of over three dozen people who died in the Uttarakhand cloudburst.

To this, parliamentary affairs minister said the compensation would reach families within 10 days but stayed mum on jobs.

Chief minister Hemant Soren had announced Rs 1 lakh and job as compensation to each bereaved family. This apart, they were each promised Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund and another Rs 1.5 lakh by the Uttarakhand government. The central and Uttarakhand sums have arrived.