GUWAHATI, June 24 � Voluntary organization Majuli Suraksha Samittee (MSS) has called for urgent steps to cover river island Majuli through helicopter services so as to remove its transport bottleneck. The island is home to a number of ethnic groups of vibrant cultural legacies and it is one of the foremost seats of Vaishnavite religion and culture of the State, besides being the home to innumerable verities of flora and fauna. Efforts are on to get the island listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The voluntary organization has also called for similar steps to set up a campus hospital of the Jorhat Medical College and a campus of the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), along with a full-fledged veterinary hospital, in the island within a short span of time.
MSS president Hem Chandra Bhuyan while talking to this newspaper, urged for an all weather arterial road in the island as well. This road should run in an east-west direction, through the heart of the island, he said.
He informed that the State Government has already issued a direction to the Jorhat district administration to submit a detailed report on the issue of introduction of helicopter services to and from the island. The island is a sub-division of Jorhat district.
This direction, issued on April 26 last, came in the wake of an MSS memorandum to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on the issue, Bhuyan said. He argued that introduction of the helicopter services would boost tourism prospect of the island, besides rendering tremendous help to its people in overcoming the emergent situations arising out of natural calamities etc.
Such services would mean a great boon for the Majuli people in matters of urgently shifting their critically ill ones to the modern hospitals located at Jorhat and Dibrugarh. The river island does not have any modern hospital despite its peculiar geographical location and the great socio-cultural legacy of its people, regretted Bhuyan.
He said that evidences are there of the minor ailments and water-borne diseases turning into fatal ones for many islanders in the past. In the 1998 post-flood scenario, around 50 people died of such diseases. Besides, a large number of cattle were killed due to the outbreak of different diseases after the devastating flood that year, Bhuyan said, reminding that the entire economy of the island is agrarian.
He maintained that while the arterial road running in an east-west direction, should be developed as an all weather road, the heights of the feeder roads connected to it should be kept below the high-flood-level of the island to avoid damages and recurring expenditure.
Moreover, he said, to maintain communication during the flood season, each of the gaon panchayats of the river island should be provided with at least one engine-driven boat. The existing ferryboats used for running the ferry services to and from the island, should also be replaced with modern ones so as to save life, time, energy and money.
Besides, he said, more ferry services should be introduced between the island and Neamatighat.