Assam Bans Private Boats From Reaching India's Largest River Island After Deadly Collision
11:13 GMT 09.09.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
The livelihood of 180,000 people of the Majuli river island depends on tourism, and private boats play a crucial role in ferrying tourists from the nearest city, Jorhat.
The Assam government has banned single-engine private boats from sailing to Majuli Island in Brahmaputra river after a deadly collision on Wednesday.
State Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that operating private ferries has been banned from Thursday onwards "as they do not have marine engines".
"If owners wish to convert a single engine vessel to a marine engine, [the] Government of Assam will provide a grant of $13,594 with 75% subsidy. Standard operating procedure will be issued to schedule health check-ups of those working on boats. The government will give subsidies to people so that they can buy marine engines."
Speaking to media after visiting those injured, who are at present at a medical college in Jorhat city, Sarma said: "A bridge connecting Jorhat and Majuli is under construction. A group of ministers will review its progress. Three officials of Inland Water Transport Department have been placed under suspension in this accident case".
At least two people are still believed to be missing after two boats, carrying 120 people between them, collided, and one of the vessels sank. One person is confirmed dead. On Thursday, the Indian army and air force joined the rescue operation for the missing and 87 were rescued by the National Disaster Response Force which carried out operations through the night on Wednesday.
Although the government said at least two people are missing, several reports suggested that the numbers could be higher.
A distressing video of the accident has been released by All India Unorganised Workers, a wing of the Indian National Congress party. The footage captures moments after the boats ran into each other and one of the two overturned. Women can be heard wailing, as many people can be seen jumping off the sinking boat into the swirling river water.