JORHAT, Nov 8 - On one hand, the State Government talks about the need to boost connectivity including waterways in the State, but on the other, an opposite picture has emerged in Upper Assam.
The water transport means of communication which is a vital and the only mode of transportation in several riverine areas including Majuli island, seems to be neglected by the Government which came to power with the slogan of paribartan (transformation).
As per sources in the Inland Water Transport (IWT) wing of the State Transport department, three important posts in Upper Assam are lying vacant for a long period of time.
The sources revealed that the two important posts of Sub-divisional Engineers of IWT that look after Jorhat and Dibrugarh sub-divisions under the Dibrugarh division are lying vacant since about past three years, while the post of the Executive Engineer of the same (Dibrugarh) division is lying vacant since June 2018.
The Assistant Executive Engineer (Technical) under the Dibrugarh division of IWT, Matindra Chandra Biswa Sarma is at present holding additional charge as In-Charge Executive Engineer of the Dibrugarh division and also of the posts of Sub-divisional Engineers of Jorhat and Dibrugarh sub-divisions (In-Charge) as per Government directives in this regard, sources stated.
The Jorhat and Dibrugarh sub-divisions of IWT has over 20 river ghats spreading over Golaghat, Jorhat, Majuli, Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts, sources stated.
The boat services are directly and indirectly (leased to private parties) run by IWT in the ghats, which is the lifeline for people of riverine areas in the above-mentioned districts, sources said.
The post SDE, who heads a sub-division, is an important one as he/she has to look after revenue collection, regular running of the boat services as per schedule, maintenance and most importantly the safety security aspects of the service, sources said.
Inspection of the river ghats by an SDE was a vital part of the post to ensure smooth running of the services without compromising the safety measures required to be undertaken in the boats for the safety of the passengers, sources said.
As the in-charge Executive Engineer has been entrusted the additional charge of Jorhat and Dibrugarh sub-divisions by the top authorities of the department since about last three years, it has led to Executive Engineer shuttling to and fro between Dibrugarh and Jorhat, source informed.
The sources stated that it was impractical and improper to keep such key posts vacant for such a long period as it was not feasible for an official to frequently move around and supervise the functioning of the services spread over eight districts on both banks of the Brahmaputra.
Moreover, the post of the Head Assistant in the Jorhat Sub-divisional Engineer’s office too has been lying vacant since past three years with a senior assistant of the office looking after the post as an in-charge, sources said.
With Raas festival to be celebrated next week across the State and Majuli being one of the key venues that draws a large number of visitors, a permanent SDE of the Jorhat Sub-division is a much-required one, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that Majuli is represented by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in the State Assembly.
It may be also mentioned here that the much-hyped Detailed Project Report of the proposed Jorhat-Majuli-Lakhimpur bridge was yet to be ready.
It may be recalled that the Union Minister for Road Transport and Shipping, Water Resources (in the first Narendra Modi-led Government) and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin J Gadkari laid the foundation-stone of the proposed bridge on February, 2016, just on the eve of the Assam Assembly polls.