THE TOLL in the boat capsize incident in Ganga river near Kalna Ghat in Bardhaman district rose to 20 on Tuesday with the fishing out of the body of a middle-aged woman.
Nadia District Magistrate Vijay Bharti said the body of 50-year-old Shephali Mondal, a resident of Shantipur, was found in the river during a search operation on Tuesday morning. The body of Taranga Debnath (76) — resident of Haripur in Nadia district— who was thought to have been missing after the mishap, was identified among the bodies recovered on Monday, he added.
Twenty people, including six children and nine women, have so far been fished out from the river. Late Saturday, the boat — reportedly ferrying about 55 people, much above its capacity — had overturned when it was on its way to Shantipur in Nadia carrying passengers from a fair at Kalna in Bardhaman across the river.
Meanwhile, the police have initiated a probe into the incident, based on a complaint lodged by Kalna municipality against the ferry service authorities. Kalna Municipality Chairman Debo Prasad Nag, in a police complaint, has alleged that Ranjit Modak — the man behind the operation of ferry services between Kalna and Shantipur — had violated his agreement with the civic body.
He alleged that Modak — who is absconding — had failed to ensure standard safety measures, including keeping a speed boat on stand-by. Moreover, according to their agreement, ferry services should have been suspended in case of bad weather and the boat was supposed to carry ropes and at least four tubes to help people keep afloat in case of an accident.
While a suo motu case has also been initiated by the Kalna police, the Centre has sought a detailed report from the Bengal government about the incident.
Search operations for other missing persons are still on in Nadia and Bardhaman. “The search operations will continue till we are satisfied that nobody is missing. There can be people missing about whom no report has been filed. So we need to continue the search operation for that,” Bardhaman SP Gaurab Sharma said.