Four officers suspended after North Guwahati Ferry Tragedy
GUWAHATI: After the spine-chilling boat tragedy on the Brahmaputra in Guwahati on Wednesday, Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has suspended of four officials of the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department, namely – Vikramaditya Choudhury, Executive Engineer; Purnananda Das, Guwahati Ferry Ghat in-charge; and two Section Officers – Dharmeswar Baishya and Jagadish Das.
The Minister stated that plying of mechanized country boats (bhut-bhuti) between North Guwahati and Guwahati on the Brahmaputra River has already been suspended since yesterday. This order will remain effective during the entire rainy season.
The Minister said that ten additional buses of ASTC have been already introduced to and fro North Guwahati – Guwahati to cater to the necessity of the people residing in North Guwahati. ‘Three new vessels for ferry service between North Guwahati and Guwahati will be introduced this month for public convenience’, added Patowary.
Minister Patowary mentioned that the Transport Department is ready with a draft bill for constitution of a Regulatory Authority. He said that ‘Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Act’ will be placed before the Assam Legislative Assembly during the forthcoming session for approval.
The Bill will lead to the independent and strict regulation of the safety and enforcement measures related to ferry service in the rivers of the state including the Brahmaputra and the Barak. Henceforth, registration, timely renewal of registration and fitness certification will be mandatory for all vessels and boats operating in the rivers of the state.
To restructure the IWT for better and effective public service, three bodies namely, Regulatory Authority, Assam Shipping Company and Assam Port Company will be constituted under the ‘Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Act’ for management of the respective sectors.
The Minister further stated that one Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) service will be rolled out in the state, one at Majuli by the end of this year and another at Guwahati by January, 2019.
The Government has already initiated the modernization of the inland water transport in the state with financial aid from the World Bank. The World Bank has come forward with Rs. 1,000 crore aid for development of the state’s water terminals and jetties and addition of modern vessels. Measures like development of five port cities at Jogighopa, Neamatighat, Dibrugarh, Biswanath and Silchar etc. are in the pipeline.