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Bengal Opposition calls for minister’s head

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The tragic bus accident that claimed 42 lives in Mursidabad on Monday had its fallout in the inaugural day of the Budget session in the state Assembly on Thursday. A combined Opposition of Congress and Left flayed the state government for allegedly using an old bus which was almost a scrap after repainting it blue and white thereby “playing with the lives of innocent people”.

The Opposition slammed the Treasury benches after governor Kesari Nath Tripathi read out a message of condo – lence of the government for the families of the dece ased passengers. “My government has noted with great sorrow the tragic accident that claimed many lives in Dau – la tabad within Murshidabad on Monday.

We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the dead or missing,” Mr Tripathi read. This led to a commotion in the Assembly, with Congress MLA from Behrampore, Manoj Chakraborty, criticising the state government for not taking necessary steps to prevent the accident and demanding a high-power inquiry presided over by a sitting judge to probe into the accident.

The Opposition further demanded resignation of state transport minister Suvendu Adhikari along with a hike in the compensation from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh and government job to a family member of the deceased. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh on Monday.

Later, terming the accident as ‘man made killing’, Mr Chakraborty said there are several irregularities which triggered the accident. These shortcomings include, absence of a route permit, lease documents and permission from regional transport office, he alleged. Although the bus belonged to the NBSTC, it was leased to the Berhampore Municipality which was running it. The bus was almost a scrap and was painted blue and white and ran as new vehicle, he alleged.

The state government did not deploy divers on time and the rescue operation was very delayed, Mr Chakraborty said. The government should take out a white paper stating as to if the bus possessed the necessary permissions from RTO, lease documents and fitness certificate for plying along with a detailed account of whether necessary steps were taken to handle the situation or not, Mr Chakraborty said. “Chief minister had earlier demanded resignation of the railway minister following a train accident.

She should now ask her transport minister to tender his resignation on moral ground,” said CPI-M MLA Sujan Chakraborty. It would have been better had Miss Banerjee, who reached the site eight hours after the accident, took a few divers with her in the helicopter as it would have expedited the rescue operation, he said. He alleged that the state government did not take enough initiative as the accident had occured in a rural area and the passengers were poor.