Patna: BJP leader Sushil Modi on Sunday alleged that "negligence" of Bihar government led to the boat capsize that claimed 24 lives and said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar should take responsibility for the tragedy.
He also demanded that the state government postpone the proposed human chain on 21 January in support of prohibition in the wake of the boat disaster.
"The Chief Minister should take responsibility for the negligence that led to yesterday's (Saturday's) tragic incident... If the CM can take credit for the arrangements for Prakashotsav (in Patna) and Kalchakra (in Bodhgaya), then he should also take the responsibility of the death of 24 people," Sushil Modi said in Patna.
"It cannot be that Kumar would get credit for good administrative arrangements for 'Prakashotsav' and 'Kalchakra' while the administrative officers are held responsible for failures," he said.
Questioning the arrangements for the kite festival by the tourism department on the occasion of Makar Sankranti at Sabbalpur diara, the BJP leader said, it was neither reviewed by the Chief Minister nor by Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav who is the district's in-charge minister.
On the other hand, the government had spent Rs 200 crore on 'Prakashotsav' which was reviewed by the Chief Minister himself and top officials regularly, Sushil Modi said.
Around one lakh people had gathered at the kite flying site on the state government's promise to ferry them free of charge to the spot, he said, adding, "The people had to pay with their lives for the government's poor and inadequate arrangements on their return journey."
Asked whether he would seek the Chief Minister's resignation, the BJP leader said, "It is up to him (Kumar) to decide. We have pointed out the failures and negligence of the state government."
Alleging that the government was responsible for similar incidents in the past, he said, "The government did not learn any lesson from the two major incidents of Chhath and Dussehra when 22 and 33 people died respectively... The government does not know crowd control techniques."
"It has become a norm that the administration wakes up from deep slumber after every major incident," Sushil Modi claimed.
Questioning why all district administration officials were at RJD chief Lalu Prasad's residence, he said, "Probably they were there to receive the Chief Minister."
Now the government is trying to divert people's attention from the actual reason of the incident by saying people came in large numbers to see a 'Disneyland' fair, which is yet to start, the BJP leader said.
Sushil Modi appealed to the state government to postpone its human chain programme on 21 January aimed at garnering support for prohibition.
The boat tragedy has also led to cancellation of the ruling JD(U)'s 'dahi-chura' feast apart from another function meant for launch of renovation of the dilapidated Mahanama Gandhi setu by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by remote control from Delhi, he said.
The BJP leader claimed that more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in various boat capsize incidents in the past one year in Bihar and added the government should make it mandatory that boats should have lifeboats to avert loss of lives.
Questioning the Bihar government's choice of officers to conduct an inquiry into the boat capsize incident, Sushil Modi claimed, "Those officers who were responsible for making arrangements, have been given the responsibility of conducting inquiry. What they will probe?"
The state government has formed an inquiry committee to probe the boat tragedy.
The committee comprises three officials, including the Disaster Management Department's secretary Pratyaya Amrit, Central Range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) (Patna) Shalin and Patna District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agarwal.
Updated Date: Jan 15, 2017 20:27 PM