Exorbitant price of Nao Dihing Ghat bothers common Chakma people

The irregular Boat fare in Dumpani-Bijoypur Ghat and Mudoi Ghat leaves the public with hole in the pocket. The ferrying costs per person vary according to seasons. During winter the cost per person become as low as Rs.5 but during the monsoon the cost goes up even to Rs 100 for a 5 minutes of dangerous ride from one side to another.  One can only imagine the agony of the poor people across the Dihing when they have to bear Rs. 200 to and fro the Dihing River when their daily income does not exceed Rs. 100 on a good day.

It has been learnt that the minimum value of these tenders are Rs.9000 to Rs. 14,000 but the Chakmas procure them at an exorbitant price of over 3 lakhs from a third party bidder. The price of this exploitation has to be bear by the innocent Chakma People and the boatmen themselves. The boatmen in order to recover their money and also to gain little profits have to ferry people even in turbulence and violent storms. And for few of them, ferrying is the only means of their livelihood.

Luckily there had been no major river accidents in Dihing unlike Brahmaputra, where in May 2012, 100 people, including women and children, drowned and over 100 went missing when a boat carrying over 300 passengers sank in the Brahmaputra River during a storm. It gets very violent and rough during the rainy season though it is much smaller than the Brahmaputra. Severe land erosion and displacement of Chakma from their allotted land is the testimony of its ferocious currents.

However, the irony is that, no matter how violent the river become, the Chakma boatmen in different Ghats in Chakma Areas do not stop ferrying people, posing a serious threat to their and to their passenger’s lives. There are two reasons for this compulsion. Firstly, absence of basics amenities such as hospitals, banks, pharmacy, shops etc. across the Dihing in Bijoypur, Dharmapur and Karsang Circle. Almost every Chakma people in Dharmapur and Bijoypur areas depend on Diyun Circle for their medical emergency and for their daily needs.

There has been no single attempt from the side of the Government to rescue the Chakma from the sorrow of the Dihing River. The River has already washed away thousands acres of land from the Chakma and the only help that the Government did was to provides wires and gunny bags to embank the mighty river. Last year in August when this issue was taken up, the Government claimed that it does have financial resources for the Chakma and they should learn to live intelligently instead.

In 2014, the Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union (APCSU) has appealed the local administration to regulate Dumpani-Bijoypur Ghat and Mudoi Ghat ferrying charges and provide concession for Students.

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