A First Information Report was lodged against a vessel operator in Bihar’s Sonpur police station on Sunday after 24 people were reported dead in a boat capsizing incident in Ganga on Saturday, reported ANI. Although overcrowding is believed to be the reason behind the accident, the administration is yet to confirm it.
The incident took place near the bank around 6 pm on Saturday when the boat was carrying around 40 people for a free ride on the occasion of Makar Sankranti in Patna, reported NDTV. Teams of National Disaster Response Force are still at the accident site and rescue operations are underway. Initially, the rescue teams had saved eight people while 25 others swam to the bank.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered a high-level probe into the incident. Besides, he asked the administration to pay Rs 4 lakh as ex gratia to the kin of those killed in the accident at the earliest, reported The Times of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families. He announced Rs 2 lakh compensation for families of those deceased and Rs 50,000 for those seriously injured. A foundation stone-laying event in Patna, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to address a gathering via video-conferencing, has been postponed in view of the tragedy, ANI reported. Congress President Sonia Gandhi also prayed for departed souls and urged the government to ensure that appropriate relief measures were provided.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh kicked off a blame game over the incident. “This [the boat capsize incident] shows the failure of the state government. They did not make the right arrangements. This government believes in flying high no matter what the situation is on the ground, ” he said. Another minister, RS Prasad, also agreed with Singh and added that “arrangements should have been more robust”. “An inquiry will expose [the] loopholes and defaulters will be caught,” he added.
In another separate incident, three people died and as many went missing after a boat capsized in Uttar Pradesh’s Virma river in Hamirpur, reported ANI. Rescue and relief operations have been initiated.