Boat Owner, One More Boatman Held

One more boatman and owner of the boat which capsized in the Hirakud dam reservoir claiming 31 lives, were arrested by Sambalpur police on Saturday.

Police had been on the lookout for the two ever since the incident took place on February 9. The boat owner was identified as Satyanand Pandey of Jagannath Mandir Colony in Sambalpur town and the boatman Anjan Parua belongs to Sianpali village under Banharpali police limits in Jharsuguda district. They were forwarded to court.

Pandey said he had requisite permission from Inland Water Transport (IWT) under Directorate of Ports and Inland Water Transport, Chandbali, by virtue of which he was operating boat service.  However, he said the Dhankauda panchayat samiti had not auctioned the Sonutikra ghat where people boarded and landed and was sure to bag the auction as he has been operating the service since last 11 years.

He revealed that majority of the men who were on board the boat were drunk and did not pay heed to the request of the boatmen and crowded the boat.

He said while they were ferried in groups while going on onward journey, all boarded the boat at a single go on their return journey.

The capacity of the boat was to ferry 100 persons, but more than 140 boarded forcibly.

Moreover, they panicked and rushed to one side of the boat on seeing the rescue boat approach which resulted in the large number of casualty. Similarly, boatman Anjan Parua said they requested the picnickers not to board the boat together and assured that they would be ferried in groups. “But they intimidated and threatened us,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, boatman Akshya Rana of Sonutikra village under Sason police limits of the district was arrested near Sambalpur on the charges of rash navigation of the vessel.

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