Assam seeks Rs.365 crore to upgrade water transport

Guwahati, May 6: A week after the ferry tragedy in Dhubri, the Assam government has approached New Delhi seeking a Rs.365-crore package to develop the inland water transport network in the state, a minister said here Sunday.

Assam government spokesman and state Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said the state government has submitted a memorandum to the central government seeking a Rs.365 crore package to upgrade the inland water transport system across the state.

“The government is planning to utilise the central government fund to build 12 jetties and 200 sophisticated ferries to cater to various areas of the state,” Hussain said.

The state government has also announced a Rs.10-crore project to develop infrastructure at Madattari and other adjoining areas under the Dhubri district, where the tragedy took place on April 30, he said.

“The project includes upgradation of a state dispensary in the area, ferry services, road network, developing a jetty in the area and addressing some other issues raised by the local people during the visit of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to the area,” the minister said.

Hussain also tried to put an end to the conflicting reports regarding the casualty and appealed to the family members of those who were travelling on the ill-fated ferry that capsized on April 30 and were still missing, to register complaints with the district administration.

“As of now, we have received 38 bodies and 15 missing complaints have been registered. Unless the relatives lodge complaints, we cannot find out how many people were missing or died. So, we appeal to families of the victims to come forward and register missing complaints. This will help the government to assess the causality,” Hussain said.

The 38 bodies recovered so far include 16 men, nine children and 13 women, the minister said.

Hussain also hinted that the casualties might increase.

“Unless we receive missing complaints, we cannot confirm the number of casualties officially. So, if there is anyone still missing, I request their relatives to come forward and report this to the district administration so that the family members can avail the ex-gratia benefit,” he said.

Hussain added that 205 passengers had bought tickets for the ferry on April 30. “It is difficult to ascertain as to how many people were actually travelling on that ferry but we guess that there were around 300 people on board,” he said.