Hirakud: The tragedy in the Hirakud reservoir that claimed 31 lives took place as the members of the Lions Club of Sambalpur compelled the boatman to ferry them at a time in an overloaded boat.
“These people are educated and treated to be responsible citizens of the society. But the way they behaved on Sunday afternoon during the return journey invited deaths for the innocent children, ladies and their family members,” said a few who survived the tragic incident.
“The boatman requested all of us with folded hands not to come at a time in one boat as it was beyond the capacity. But none bothered his suggestion,” said a person, on the strict condition of anonymity, who narrowly escaped the accident.
The boatman further suggested us to come in two batches. He promised to leave the first batch at the Sonu Tikra ghat and come back immediately to take the rest. But no one listened to him,” he said with a heavy heart, who has lost his friends and relatives.
Even some of members started showing red eyes to the boat man who finally had to obey, he said, narrating, “Kuchh nehi hoga. Jo hoga, dekha jayega. Tum chalo yaar,” was the order of the Lions Club members to the boat man and he had no other options but to leave with the overloaded boat. And the result is now clear to everyone, he added. The mistake of a few influential members invited the deaths for all the 31 people, he lamented.
“While going to the picnic spot inside the reservoir during Sunday morning, we went in three batches. But during the return journey, everyone was interested to come first. None of us including me had the patience to wait which finally proved fatal,” he confessed. There were also regular passengers, seven motor bikes, two bi-cycles in the boat, besides us, he said.
Meanwhile, with recovery of three more bodies on Tuesday, the death toll has reached 31. “While 30 are the members of the Lions Club and their family members, only one Amar Rout is from Hirakud town,” informed district emergency officer Nihar Ranjan Dash. The rescue operation was also closed with recovery of all the missing bodies, he said.
Police have registered a case against the boat man, his assistants and the owner of the boat. But deceased families and common public demanded action against those who compelled the boat man to come with the over loaded boat.
Of course, it is the track record of the Sambalpur police to bow before the high hats and persons with nuisance values. In this case, what will be the police action remains to be seen. As police registered a case against the boat man, will it go for similar action against those responsible for the tragedy, ask the common people.