Vikash Sharma

The fun and frolic soon turned into a nightmare for scores of people after the boat which was ferrying them capsized in the Mahanadi River in Jharsuguda, resulting in the death of seven persons. Six more bodies were fished out from the river on Saturday. With the recovery of one more body in the evening, the death toll in the boat tragedy mounted to eight, sources said.

As per reports, about 50 people including children and women from Kharsia area in neighbouring Chhattisgarh had gone to the temple from Saradha ghat under Lakhanpur block of Jharsuguda district. On their way to Banjipali in Bargarh district, the boat capsized on Friday, shattering lives of the people who lost their loved ones.

Who Is Responsible For The Tragedy?

The tragic incident has raised several questions as lives of so many people have been lost in the mishap. Is it the boat driver, local administration or the passengers are to be blamed for the boat tragedy?

The pictures of the ill-fated boat clearly speak volumes about its condition.

A local resident said, “Last year, I had raised objection on the condition of the boat and other issues like lack of life jackets. Following the allegation, Tehsildar, BDO and Rengali IIC visited the spot. However, I was threatened by police and no action was taken.”

Many allege that the boat driver was a ward member and the local panchayat auctions the boat ghat. Besides, the boat was reportedly ferrying passengers beyond its capacity. Not only passengers, but three two-wheelers were also loaded on the ill-fated boat.

“I have been told that the condition of the boat was not fit to ferry passengers. The boat is used for fishing purpose and not to be used to ferry passengers. There were around 50 passengers on the boat beyond its capacity and the condition was not also fit,” said Umesh Patel, Raigarh MLA.

According to Patel, it should be the local administration’s responsibility to ensure safety of passengers.

“Whatever I saw here clearly shows that the boat’s condition was not proper to carry 50 passengers and it also lacked safety jackets,” he added.

What Rules Say?

The ghat is usually auctioned by the local panchayat and there should have been a proper review of all the aspects by the concerned panchayati raj and transport department. The concerned boat ghat should also highlight all facts and information regarding the capacity of the boat, fitness, life jackets and timings of operation of service.

What Administration Say

RDC (Northern Range) Srikant Prusty said, “The boat’s license was valid till March and no renewal was done after it. Only after an investigation, it will be ascertained why it was not renewed and appropriate steps will be taken in this regard.”

  • Reported by:
  • Bhagirathi Sahu