The people of North Guwahati have expressed strong resentment at the State Government and local MLA Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the State Finance Minister, for not taking the problem of river transport system seriously.
Talking to Northeast Now, Dr Kukil Baruah, a resident of North Guwahati, said, “A bridge between the northern and southern bank of river Brahmaputra in Guwahati is a legitimate demand and we have been demanding it for a long time.”
After the tragic boat mishap near Ashwaklanta Temple in North Guwahati on September 5 last, the BJP-led State Government has not taken any initiative for alternate transport system between both the banks of the river Brahmaputra in Guwahati except terminating plying of the mechanised boats.
Besides, six ASTC buses, which were provided by the State Government immediately after the incident, are also not in operation now.
Talking to Northeast Now over the phone, Arup Dhar Baruah, father of Anikita Baruah, who died in the boat mishap on September 5, said, “Local MLA Himanta Biswa Sarma had a good opportunity to do something more for the people of North Guwahati. But he missed it. Announcement of financial help to the deceased’s family was not our expectation.”
Baruah said the people of North Guwahati have not seen any positive steps from the local MLA as well as from the Government though the MLA had assured of finding out a permanent solution to the age-old river transport problem.
Baruah questioned whether the Government has goodwill to prevent such kind of incidents in future or the it would prefer to be in deep slumber ignoring the negligence and alleged corruption in the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department.
He also alleged that the engines of the existing Government ferries plying between North Guwahati and Guwahati are around 30 years old whereas the State Government declares 15-year-old commercial vehicles unfit for plying.
“The Government had decorated the ferries during Advantage Assam celebrations by fixing tiles on the floor of the ferries instead of emphasising the need to change the engines,” Baruah alleged.
Meanwhile, talking to this correspondent, Nirmaleswar Goswami, another resident of North Guwahati and a social worker, said the river transport system between both the banks of the Brahmaputra river in Guwahati has not changed till date.
“The river transport system since 1972 to 1992 was good enough. People had travelled without any hesitation. But, many tragic incidents occurred since 1992 due to various anomalies and corruption in the IWT Department. Plying of mechanised boats started in 1989,” Goswami said.
Goswami further alleged that Himanta Biswa Sarma has used the people of North Guwahati only for “vote bank politics”.
Besides, talking about the upcoming ropeway communication between North Guwahati and Guwahati, Goswami said it would probably give a fillip to the development and increase revenue in tourism industry but it would not help the common people.
“Bridge is our final demand and the Government must act on it,” Goswami said.
However, Assam’s Finance and PWD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said that the construction of the bridge connecting Guwahati and North Guwahati would start within the next six months and is expected to be completed by 2022.
Another resident of Bihalangoni in North Guwahati, Diganta Bora, demanded setting up of a river police station in Guwahati.
It may be mentioned that the river police station near Guwahati is located at Sualkuchi while there is only a river police outpost in the city – Pandu river police outpost.