JORHAT, March 30 – Expressing deep concern over the Inland Water Transport Department’s decision to hike the fares of ferry services and transportation of goods and vehicles between Jorhat and Majuli, representatives of local organisations, students and business communities today sought Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s intervention in the matter and urged him to take steps to revoke the decision.
The new fares are slated to be effective from April 1.
The representatives said the move to hike ferry fares will create immense financial hardship for the local people and the tourists alike.
“Once the new decision is implemented, every passenger, irrespective of age, profession and economic status, will have to spend Rs 32 instead of the present amount of Rs 15 for a single journey between Neamatighat and Kamalabari. Each bike on a ferry will be charged Rs 84 instead of the current fare of Rs 40. Moreover, Rs 1,312 will be charged for carrying a car on a ferry, instead of the current fare of Rs 638,” said Jagat Hazarika, president of the Majuli unit of AJYCP.
The AJYCP and the Satradhikars of many Satras on the river island, including the Auniati Satra, the Bengenaati Satra, the Adhar Satra and the businessmen’s association of Kamalabari, on March 20 had placed the matter before the Minister and the Director concerned. However, they could not give any assurance on changing the decision.
“They said it is beyond their capacity, as the decision to hike the fares of ferry services was a Cabinet decision. We, therefore, appeal to the Chief Minister to take immediate measures to cancel the decision, particularly for the people of Majuli, as they cannot afford such high transportation costs on a daily basis,” said Hazarika.
Satradhikar Dr Pitambar Dev Goswami, Bhabananda Dev Goswami and Mahesh Goswami, had on March 20 appealed to the Minister and the authority concerned through a series of applications explaining the problems to be posed by the proposed fare hike.
According to them, the implementation of such a hike will create serious problems for the local people and also the visitors who throng the cradle of Vaishnavite culture every season. As Majuli does not have the required number of hospitals, colleges and institutes of technical education, hundreds of patients, attendants and students have to travel to Jorhat on a daily basis, they pointed out.
Besides, the move will also hit the farmers and local businessmen hard, as they have to cross the river on a regular basis for selling local agricultural produce in Jorhat and other parts of the State. Every passenger will have to bear the brunt if the fare is hiked, they said.
Though local citizens hoped that their representative in the State Assembly would raise the issue, nothing has allegedly been done to alter the government decision, several senior citizens alleged.
“We had expected our representative to raise the issue during the ongoing Assembly session, but nothing unfortunately has been done in this regard,” alleged Tutu Goswami, the district adviser of AJYCP.