MIRZA, May 26 � Even after the recent tragic demise of over 200 people in the boat mishap at Modertary in Dhubri district, the authorities concerned are yet to take any action to monitor the boats plying through the river Brahmaputra in Kamrup, Barpeta and Nalbari districts. Thus the State government�s tall promise of further non-occurrence of boat mishap might run into rough weather as a large number of the boats are plying in the mighty river flouting the rules. Sources said over 10 boat capsizes have occurred in the last one decade in this part of the Brahmaputra river killing several people and more than 100 people died when a boat capsized at the river Brahmaputra in Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district in 1996.
�We have been haunted by the shocks of the tragic boat mishap that killed over 100 people, including my relatives, when a ill fated engine fitted country boat capsized in the river by storm at Futuri village in Palasbari LAC in Kamrup district of Assam in 1996,� said Insaf Ali of Bhatkhowadia, a survivor in the accident who was 16 years old when the accident took place.
Over 20 villages in char areas of Palasbari, Chhaygaon, Barkhetry and Hajo LAC are surrounded by Brahmaputra and hence they must cross the mighty river by using engine fitted country boats or country boats in order to reach the outside world, including Guwahati, for sale of their produce and also for purchase of their essential items. Sources further said several thousand people in Kamrup and Goalpara district prefer to travel through boats from ghats (river ports) at Sontoli, Alikash and Nagarbera to ghats in Bohri, Baghbar, Kasumari, Kurihamari-Siyalmari to reach Barpeta and Nalbari districts and vice-versa as the distance by boat travel is must shorter and less expensive as compared to road travel.
It may be mentioned here that the people of the char villages of Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamrup districts in the state has been producing the vital bulk of agricultural produce that are now grown in the mainland areas, including sugarcane, couliflower, cabbage, tomato, sesame, bitter gourd, gourd etc in their fertile sandy loam land which has been serving the kitchen of the people in the urban areas, including Guwahati, and helping the government in order to fill up the gap of produce. A large number of businessman transport their goods like sugarcane, goats, vegetables (produced in char areas of Barpeta district) from Kasumari ghat in Chenga LAC in Barpeta to Guwahati every day and that in their return journey goods like rice, wheat, dal, mustard and other essential items are carried out from Guwahati to several areas of Barpeta district.
Similarly, goods like sugarcane, goats and vegetable are transported by bhutbhutis from ghats (river ports) at Alikash, Sontoli and Bhatkhowadia char in Kamrup (rural) to Guwahati for sale and in their return journey essential items are transported to the char areas of Kamrup (rural) district. Further, several boats used to ply everyday carrying passengers and goods from Siyalmar-Kurihamari ghat in Nalbari district to Guwahati and vice-versa. Sources mentioned that it takes around 8 hours from Kasumari to Guwahati by engine fitted boat or bhutbhutis and equal number of time from Sontoli is required for a boat to reach Guwahati while about 5 hours is required to reach Guwahati from Bhatkhowadia in Kamrup (rural) district through Brahmaputra against the turbulent current and formidable wave of the water.
Sources said the boats, which is always overloaded by goods or passengers than its capacities, might capsize at any time in the Brahmaputra river given the storm occurring everyday.
�It becomes very difficult and risky to travel through the Brahmaputra river during this session as the rain coupled with the storm, which used to occur everyday, could immediately capsize the boats which could be resulted in the lost of property and killing of commuters,� said Md Abdus Samad, 45, of Bhatkhowadia char of Palasbari Revenue Circle in Kamrup district. Every day around 40 private engine fitted country ply in the 70 km segment of Brahmaputra from Bohri to Guwahati through different �paarghats� to transport people and their goods to the markets and the government has not yet provided ferry or country boats on their own which could given save journey to the commuters�, said Rahim Ali, 40, a poor farmers of Bhatkhowadia village of Palasbari LAC.
Besides, it is alleged that the boatmen are crushing the rules of the government at different ghats (river ports) including the Hohuwa-Kalapani ghat by carrying passengers alongwith goods like cows, goats and other goods, including illegal timbers (from Kamrup West Forest Division), which is a cause of concern.