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Assam bans plying of mechanized boats from entire river system

Guwahati, Sep 11 (IANS) The BJP-led Assam government has decided to stop plying of mechanized boats on the entire river system of the state and convert all the single-engine ferries into double engine ones to ensure safety.

Assam Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, who held a review meeting at the Directorate of Inland Water Transport on Tuesday, said no mechanized country boats (known as bhut-bhutis) will be allowed to ply on the river in the entire river system until further orders.

He said all single-engine ferries should be converted into double-engine ones with reverse gears.

“As per safety norms, there must be one life jacket for each passenger in the vessel and it will be mandatory for each passenger to put on the life jacket while boarding the vessel,” said Patowary. He said deputy commissioners will conduct safety audit of the vessels.

At least four persons died on September 5 after a mechanized boat capsized in Brahmaputra river near capital town Guwahati. The boat was not equipped with safety gears.

The Minister also took stock of the World Bank-funded project preparation and the reform measures initiated during the last one-and-a-half years. The project will address the sector reforms holistically, for which Inros Lackner, the German consultants, have submitted a report and the vessel and terminal designs are being readied.

The Transport Department has been working on a regulatory bill for the last six months. A draft of the Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Act is ready to be placed before the Assembly during the forthcoming session for approval.

The Act will facilitate setting up of a separate regulatory body and port and shipping management companies, taking into consideration the recommendations of a panel report submitted in 2013.

The Minister also directed that capacity building of IWT staff and other stakeholders must be enhanced on a war-footing.



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