A ferry carrying 10 overloaded trucks between Jharkhand’s Sahibganj and Bengal’s Manikchak lost balance and capsized in the Ganga on Monday evening.
At least 13 bodies, those of drivers and helpers, have been recovered so far, while none of the trucks have been pulled out. Three people have been rescued and moved to hospital for treatment, while 8 are reported missing.
Run by a private operator, the ferry usually carries hundreds of locals along with the trucks daily. However, the one involved in the incident was carrying only trucks.
Reportedly, the trucks were waiting to get off the ferry after reaching Manikchak Ghat when one of them lost balance, resulting in the ferry capsizing. Nine trucks, including their drivers and helpers, went into the river while one managed to stay in the ferry. All trucks were overloaded with stones.
While rescue work started immediately on a war footing in the darkness of the evening, by morning the efforts appeared to have slowed down. Cranes which were pressed into service, could also be seen idling on the ghat.
Officials involved in the rescue operation seemed reluctant to talk to the media. When Ewoke TV asked D Sarkar, the office in-charge of the rescue operation, as to why no activity could be seen, he got infuriated and replied he was not responsible to answer the media.
Overloading trucks is a common practice here. Rules are routinely flouted while allowing overloaded trucks into the ferry.
The administration turns a blind eye to the wrong doings. The truck drivers pay a bribe of Rs 3,000 to the officials apart from paying the ferry service charge to overload their vehicles and get aboard to cross the mighty Ganga.
Months ago there was a similar incident in Bhagalpur in which 85 people lost their lives. That accident was also blamed on vehicle overloading.
Overloading is a perennial risk people have to take not just on roads but also on water. Thankfully, the ferry involved in the Malda incident was only carrying trucks along with the drivers and helpers, otherwise the toll would have been really very high.
Why is the administration turning a blind eye and allowing overloaded trucks aboard? Looks like human life doesn’t hold any value for these people. Also, with the way the rescue efforts seem to have slowed down, there is hardly any hope left for those who are still reported missing.