Tuesday, 6 December, 2022
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Festivity turns into tragedy

Festivity turns into tragedy

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We are deeply saddened and shocked to know that at least 34 people died and 58 went missing after the drowning of a boat that was carrying Hindu pilgrims in the Karatoya River in Boda Upazila of Panchagarh on Sunday. The devotees were going to celebrate Mahalaya, which is an auspicious occasion for the Hindus heralding the advent of goddess Durga. The engine-boat apparently capsized due to the overcrowding, leading the festivity to turn into a tragedy as a pall of gloom descended on the village.

Whatever may have been the trigger, it is clear that there were serious lapses in the crowd management procedures. Otherwise, how over 100 people could board a small engine-boat? The annual religious festival attracts thousands of pilgrims. The authorities supervising the arrangements should have anticipated the crowd and planned the arrangements accordingly.

Accidents on rivers, along with road accidents have become a recurrent tragedy in this country. As can be ascertained from this incident, these accidents are not the result of human error or circumstance, but human neglect and gross violation of safety rules. Thus in most cases accidents do not happen but are virtually invited. Use of engine boats for passenger transport was prohibited long ago, in the early phase of introduction of this crude device in waterway communication. Shallow pump engine for use in irrigation is fitted to ordinary boats to assemble this so-called engine boat.

Although the boats were banned, they are still regularly used in carrying passengers in various parts of the country, and thus frequently cause accidents on waterways. The accident on Karatoya River is no exception. If the ban on engine boat was effectively enforced, a lot of the lives could have been saved. Therefore, it is high time for the government and the authorities to deal with the matter seriously. The authorities of organising festivals should learn from this tragedy so that such pointless tragedy never recurs in future.