4 held for jetty collapse; 2 more bodies recovered, toll at 5
State Transport department along with police and engineers start inspection of jetties in East Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas.
Four persons were arrested in connection with the Wednesday's incident at Telinipara near Bhadreswar in Hooghly in which five persons were killed and 18 went missing when an "abandoned jetty" collapsed during high tide.
With two more bodies being fished out on Thursday morning, the death toll in this connection increased to five. Meanwhile, the search operation to find out 18 more missing people is still on.
At the same time, the state Transport department along with police and engineers started carrying out inspections of all the jetties in the five South Bengal districts — East Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24-Parganas.
Suvendu Adhikari, the state Transport minister, said: "Two teams comprising officials of the Transport department, police officers and engineers are carrying out inspections to assess the present condition of jetties. They will be filing the report by evening and accordingly, steps to repair the jetties will be taken from Saturday or Sunday on an immediate basis. On an emergency basis we have repaired 21 jetties."
Beside the Disaster Management Group (DMG), the National Disaster Response Force has been engaged for the search operation.
They found two more bodies this morning and are carrying out the search operation to fish out more bodies. Family members and relatives of the missing were found waiting on the river bank even on Thursday.
The jetty in Telenipara ghat was a permanent one under the supervision of the zilla parishad. Since it was not in a good shape and declared abandoned, Rs 10 lakh was given in December 2016 in the account of the district magistrate to undertake repairing work of it either through the zilla parishad or the local civic body.
But, the "izaradars", who were in-charge of maintaining the jetty, had been using it to ferry passengers by keeping the district authorities in the dark with the help of some local people. Four people including the izaradars – Sukamal Chakraborty, Dipankar Banerjee, Sujit Ganguly and Subhas Pal – were arrested in this connection.
The state government is mulling to construct another jetty in the area at Rs 1 crore and Rs 50 lakh which has already been sanctioned for the project. At the same time, a move was also taken to repair the ill-fated one.
There are many bamboo jetties that are used to ferry passengers in motorised boats. With the inspection of the Transport department and police, the department will get a report on the condition of each and every jetty in the five South Bengal districts.
Later, the similar assessment of jetties will also carried out in Burdwan, Murshidabad and Nadia.
Adhikari said: "The bamboo structure jetties that are not in good condition on both banks of river Hooghly will be shut. Help of the district administration and police will be taken to shut operations in the jetties. We would construct permanent wooden jetties in place of the existing temporary ones as per the demand of the local people and till that time, the dangerous ones will remain shut. A public notice would be issued in this connection after receiving the detailed report on the present condition of the jetties."