GUWAHATI: Twenty four hours elapsed but there was no trace of people reported missing after a mechanized country boat sank in the Brahmaputra in Guwahati on Wednesday.
The authorities pressed into service personnel, including divers, of National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force in the search and rescue operations. Strong current in the river said to have hampered the search operations.
There are no definite figures with the government about the number of people who were aboard the ill-fated boat. The figure on Wednesday ranged from 22 to “over 30”. It was also not known how many people had managed to swim to safety. Based on reports received from families, Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said two persons were missing.
“As per reports received from families, two persons are missing. If some more people are missing, their families can contact the administration. I feel reports that several people are missing were on the higher side,” he told reporters after visiting the houses of two Class XI girls who died in the tragedy.
The transport department has suspended the services of mechanized boats on the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. Sarma said the government would discuss with people and officials on whether or not to ply such boats in the future.
Waterway is the lifeline of people living on the north bank of the Brahmaputra in North Guwahati. Not many buses ply between North Guwahati and Guwahati and the route is also much longer. Because of this situation, people prefer travelling by boats to buses.
“Earlier, we had suspended the service of mechanized boats but it had to be resumed as people demanded it. We will consider plying more ships. Three ships are ready. We are hoping to operate them by next week. We will take all measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” the minister assured.
He disclosed that the construction work for a proposed bridge over the Brahmaputra connecting Guwahati with North Guwahati would commence in next six months and the work would be completed by 2022.