GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - More than 150 persons have died in various riverine routes of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries in the last four years, even as the River Police, meant to keep vigil on the waterways, continue to function without a single boat of their own.
The River Police also continue to face acute manpower shortage as more than 40 per cent of the posts have been lying vacant for years.
Apart from the need for new boats, the River Police, on several occasions, have written to the State government for improving its existing infrastructure but to no avail.
According to the Assam Police website, out of the 207 sanctioned posts in the River Police, the number of vacant posts as in 2015 stands at 129, which means that more than 60 per cent of the posts are lying vacant.
Information made available to The Assam Tribune indicates that of the four river police stations in the State, Sualkuchi reported the highest number of drowning cases in the last four years. From 2015 to August 2018, the Sualkuchi river police recorded 99 cases of drowning.
The other three police stations, including Goalpara, Tezpur and Biswanath, recorded 17, 28 and two cases of drowning respectively. Around six persons could not be traced till date.
�For the last many years, the River Police operated with just one boat. But now even that is not functional. We are forced to hire boats for operation and other purposes from private parties as and when required,� official sources told this reporter.
Sources further informed that along with the river police stations, all the seven river police outposts in the State are also in the doldrums.
A senior Assam Police official, while requesting anonymity, stated that the River Police, which are mainly mandated to patrol the vulnerable Indo-Bangla riverine border routes, do not even have their presence in many districts.
�The officials at the helm of affairs have been in deep slumber for too long and the time has come to set some accountability in this regard,� the official added.