Guwahati: The BJP government in Assam must take the blame for the Nimati Ghat boat tragedy as it had promised to improve the water transport system but did nothing, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Debabrata Saikia said on Wednesday.

The state government had received Rs 1,000 crore from the World Bank during the last five years to upgrade the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department but there has been no change for the better, Saikia told a press conference.

Three persons died when a private boat with 92 people on board capsized and sank in the Brahmaputra on September 8 evening, following a head-on-collision with a government-owned ferry steamer near Nimati Ghat in Jorhat district.

In 2018, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had visited Majuli and promised improvement in water transport facilities, construction of 12 jetties, and night operation of boats in a scientific manner but the announcements remain unfulfilled, the Congress leader said.

It has been found that the operation of the Ro-ro and Ro-Pax vessels sourced from Holland is not suitable on the Brahmaputra. It was necessary to make certain design changes in the modern vessels to enable them to ply on the Brahmaputra but the government did not pay heed. As a result, the vessels cannot operate during all seasons”, Saikia said.

The most disconcerting fact remains that there are no marine engineers in the IWT department since 2010, he claimed.

The Congress leader further alleged that the BJP government has announced several schemes for improving the economic condition of farmers but failed to make any impact.

Saikia claimed that the farmers are buying fertilizer at high prices and the government’s supply of low-quality seeds has led to losses but no probe has been instituted.

He also demanded that the Namrup fertilizer factory should be revived to benefit the farmers.

The BJP government at the Centre has been making repeated announcements since 2015 regarding the renovation of the fertilizer factory but nothing has materialised, Saikia said.

At one time, 5,000 employees were engaged in the Namrup fertilizer plant but now only 580 permanent and 1,500 temporary workers are employed.

The state and central BJP governments are not giving due importance to the revival of the Namrup fertilizer plant, Saikia said.

It has been reported that the poor farmers of the state are buying illegally- sourced fertilizers at high prices and a syndicate is operating for the fertilizer produced in the Namrup plant, he alleged.

”It has been going on for a long time and on August 28, union workers of the Namrup plant launched an operation during which they found 930 bags of fertilizer about to be transported by train illegally. The administration tried to deal with the matter by arresting only two officials.

Due to the operation of the syndicate, the farmers in the state are forced to buy fertilizer at higher prices”, he alleged.

Saikia demanded that a CBI inquiry be instituted into the fertilizer syndicate and the guilty punished.

Also read: Assam govt decides to establish law colleges

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