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Amidst ferry rush, life jackets have disappeared from sight

A limited number of ferry services from Chinsurah, Chandannagar, Serampore and Uttarpara to Kolkata have been allowed but with restrictions. A limited number of passengers is allowed, which is paving the way for jostling with one another to board the ferry.

Hemant Jacob | Hooghly |

The ferry services from the district which are handling a considerable amount of the passenger traffic to Kolkata are yet to pay any attention to safety measures such as life jackets for passengers, which are at present not to be seen at all.

After the state government eased the lockdown by allowing offices and other establishments to open, many people from Hooghly district are in a fix, trying to figure out possible means to reach Kolkata for work, at a time when bus services are scarce, compared to the number of commuters.

Local train services too remain suspended. In such a confusing state of affairs, commuters have opted for the ferry services to reach their destinations.

A limited number of ferry services from Chinsurah, Chandannagar, Serampore and Uttarpara to Kolkata have been allowed but with restrictions. A limited number of passengers is allowed, which is paving the way for jostling with one another to board the ferry.

However, the most important safety gear while traversing the river – life jacketsare quite apparently absent, increasing the risks of drowning manifolds.Life jackets were made compulsory by the state transport department following several accidents.

A passenger using the ferry services to reach Kolkata said, “This cannot be a permanent solution. It takes nearly four hours to reach Kolkata from Chinsurah-Chandannagar. The ferry charges are too high and yet no life jackets are provided. There are no safety measures to save the lives of ferry passengers in case of an accident.”

State and central government employees and people earning higher salaries are sharing four wheelers to reach their work places to Kolkata from Bandel, Chinsurah, Chandannagar, Serampore, Rishra and Uttarpara. Many said it is difficult to cycle to Kolkata in this exhausting heat which is leaving them gasping for breath.

Mr Subir Mukherjee, the purto karmadhyak of Hooghly Zila Parishad said: “We have arranged vehicles for our employees who reside within 10 kms while others who stay farther away, for them guest houses have been provided.”