Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Inland Water Transport (IWT) department has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank for a Rs 770 crore loan to improve river transportation in the state.
The central government would refund 80 per cent of the sanctioned amount and the state government would bear the remaining 20 per cent, the chief minister said while flagging off four steel catamaran vessels at Pandu Port here.
Assam’s culture and civilisation have been nurtured by the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers and their tributaries but they also pose communication challenges for people living on the banks, CM Sarma pointed out.
The chief minister said that after the Majuli boat accident in September, the state government has taken an aggressive approach to make river transportation more hassle-free and secure.
Out of the four vessels, two will ply over the river Brahmaputra at Majuli and one each in between Guwahati-North Guwahati and Uzanbazar -Umananda ferry ghats.
The newly launched vessels have the capacity of carrying 100 passengers and 50 two-wheelers and are powered with 180 HP twin engines which can travel at a speed of 10 knots forward speed.
The vessels have advanced equipment such as control and monitoring, communication and navigation, GPS, wind measurement, lifesaving, and firefighting equipment.
CM Sarma also launched an e-ticketing system for the Umananda ferry service which will enable tourists to pre-book their tickets and thereby help in the management of ferry operations.
This is the second e-ticketing initiative for ferry services. The first such facility was introduced on the Jorhat-Majuli route and the government has earned a revenue of Rs. 26 lakh since its launch on September 27. The chief minister also asked the department to introduce the same-ticketing service in all ferry ghats of the state. (PTI)