It may be mentioned that 20 people were killed and several others injured when a boat ferrying passengers from Kalna in Burdwan to Shantipur in Nadia had capsized in river Bhagirati with more than 50 passengers on board on May 14.
The district administration has issued a notice with 26 point directives. Stringent measures will be taken against a ferry operator in case any of the directives is not followed.
It is learnt that the ferry operators have to keep sufficient number of life jackets on the boats. Carrying capacity of a boat that is the maximum numbers of passengers that can travel at a time has to be specified properly. The number of passengers shouldn’t exceed the capacity specified. There have to proper public addressing system at the transit points. Ticketing system has to be introduced.
Tickets should be given at the counter set up at the transit point before a passenger gets onto a boat to get the exact count on the number of people travelling at a time.
There should not be any fare for children under 3 years. Precautions need to be taken for safety and security of children. To assure that those do not know swimming must put on life jackets before the boat sets out.
Moreover, a diver of age limit from 18 to 50 years has to be appointed at each transit point. Employees at the transit points and boatmen should have their identity cards. There should sufficient lights at all the transit points.
Transit points for ferrying goods and passengers have to be separate ones. The ferry operators have to give a report stating the condition of boats and other arrangements to their respective civic bodies or panchayats.
It is learnt that the district authorities held a high level meeting and prepared the directives that to be followed to avoid repetition of incidents that had taken place at Kalna when people were returning from a religious festival on May 14.
It may be recalled that a few years ago the state government had issued quite a similar directives that to be followed to ferry passengers in motorised boats after an incident of boat capsize in South 24-Parganas.
The local civic bodies had made the ferry operators follow the directives. But the incident at Kalna had taken place as some boatmen had taken passengers more than the boat’s capacity to make some fast money. Thus the district administration has now decided to take stringent measures if any boatman or ferry operators do not follow the directives.