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Assam Boat Collison: Three Inland Waterway Transport Officials Suspended After One Dies, Several Go Missing

A private boat had collided with the ferry of the state's Inland Water Transport Department on Wednesday, September 8.

A woman, identified as Parimita Das, has died and a few people have gone missing after two boats collided in the Brahmaputra River in Assam's Jorhat district and one of them capsized. The incident took place near Nimati Ghat on Wednesday, September 8.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to the microblogging site to inform that a high-level inquiry was instituted to investigate the accident.

Three officials of the Inland Water Transport department have been placed under suspension in this regard.

In addition, Sarma stated that there will be a complete ban on plying of private ferried as they are not equipped with marine engines. The state government would provide a grant of ₹10 lakh with 75 per cent subsidy if owners decide to convert single engine to a marine one.

Executive Engineer Bikramaditya Choudhury, Assistant Executive Engineer Mukut Gogoi, and Junior Engineer Ratul Tamuli are the three officials who have been suspended.

What Happened?

Videos of the incident have gone viral on social media that show helpless people jumping off the capsized boat in an attempt to save their lives.

A private boat had collided with the ferry of the state's Inland Water Transport Department. The government-owned ferry was coming from Majuli district to Nimati Ghat, while the other boat was headed in the opposite direction in the evening.

According to the reports, the boat that capsized had more than 70 passengers on board. The capsized boat has been located. It is located 1.5 kilometres from the spot.

"We will have to cut open its top portion. Only then can we reach under it. NDRF and SDRF are making arrangements for it", Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma on Jorhat boat collision incident as reported by The Times Of India.

The government of Assam has ordered that those found guilty face departmental action.

Assam Battles Devastating Floods

According to a report by The Hindu, nearly 6,47,606 people have been affected due to the floods. About 70 per cent of the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve is underwater.

Every year, floods wreak havoc on Assam, the largest state in the northeastern region. Thousands of people are displaced, and property worth vast sums are damaged.

Due to floods, about 1.6 million people were displaced in 2014, 1.5 million people in 2015, around 1.7 million people in 2016, and while more than 1.7 million people were displaced in 2017.

In 2020, more than 38.8 lakh people affected by floods. Dhubri district in Western Assam was the worst affected district for the second year in a row in 2020.

The causes of this high percentage of flood-prone areas are both artificial and natural. Floods are caused by a variety of factors, including natural topography and excessive rainfall, but they can also be caused by human intervention.

The topography of Assam is the most crucial cause of floods.

Brahmaputra River runs through the entire length of Assam. The Himalayas to the north and the Meghalaya plateau to the south surround the Assam plains, making it a narrow plain. In the event of increased water discharge into the Brahmaputra river, there is no other option for the water to rise vertically instead of spreading horizontally.

Secondly, the state receives a lot of rain during the rainy season. Due to this, the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers and their tributaries such as the Subansiri, Manah, Kopili, Jia Bharali, Dikrong, Jiadhal, and others, are flooded, submerging their catchment areas in vast plains.

Natural and artificial landslides are common in Assam and other northeastern hilly states. Landslides and earthquakes deposit a large amount of debris in rivers, causing river beds to rise and become shallow. The shallow riverbeds worsen flooding in the basins.

Human-induced factors include the destruction of wetlands, oxbow lakes, deforestation, illegal hillside cutting, earth filling natural ponds, canals, and encroachment on river banks.

Among artificial reasons, the primary cause of floods in Assam is the release of water from dams. Due to poor urban planning, most cities and towns now experience flash floods.

Problem Faced By Healthcare Workers Due To Floods

Assam's healthcare workers are facing a new challenge due to the devastating floods. Thousands of people live on chars and chaporis, riverine islands that dot the Brahmaputra river, and these health workers are resorting to taking boat rides to reach them.

"Now that there are floods, the challenge is even greater; our front-line workers must constantly be in the floodwaters, even while vaccinating," said Monika Deka Dutta, the Block Programme Manager (BPM) of National Health Mission (HNM) at Hajo of Assam's Kamrup district, 40 km west of Guwahati as reported by NDTV

Vaccination camps are located either under a tree or on the boat itself. Poor connectivity and vaccine apprehension among some villagers make things even more difficult.

Also Read: Spike In Number Of Suicides During Second Wave Of COVID: Study

Contributors Suggest Correction
Writer : Shweta Routh
Editor : Palak Agrawal
Creatives : Palak Agrawal

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