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Assam govt to provide free marine engines to private ferries


Guwahati, Sept 12: The Assam government on Sunday said it will provide free of cost marine engines to hundreds of private passenger vessels.

A number of safety measures as part of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for plying of vehicles across the state, especially between Nimati Ghat in Jorhat and Majuli where a tragic boat accident last week had claimed two lives with a third person still missing, has also been issued, a statement issued by the Government said. The decisions were taken at a review meeting of the Directorate of Inland Water Transport (DIWT) here, chaired by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday evening.

The state government will provide marine engines to 850 private passenger vessels, free of cost, that have applied under a special scheme.Marine engines will be fitted after a survey of the boat''s fitness by a surveyor appointed by DIWT, Assam, the statement said.

"DIWTA in consultation with the DC (deputy commissioner) concerned will assess the requirement for more than one ramp /temporary jetties at each Ghat and arrange to construct accordingly," it said.

The statement added that the DCs, DIWTA and other senior officers will have to frequently visit and inspect arrangements made at the ghats to ensure that the ferry service is operating smoothly. As a part of the SOP for Nimati Ghat and Majuli, plying of private vessels with single engine, except those with marine engines with reversible gear, will remain suspended, the statement further said.

Six government vessels, including two Ro-Pax, will remain in operation between Majuli and Jorhat and one dredger will be used to maintain the channel/gradient for smooth ferry services even in the lean season. All 19 private passenger vessels plying between Majuli and Jorhat will be fitted with marine engines with reversible gear at the expense of the government within six months, it was decided at the meeting according to the statement.

All passengers will be required to wear life jackets before departure of the vessel and tickets will be issued to all passengers and their names and contact details will be maintained in a register. Minimum two ramps/ temporary jetties will be maintained at each ghat of Majuli and Jorhat for docking and mooring of boats. One life-buoy ring against four passengers has been made mandatory and the life-buoys should be kept on the guard rails for immediate throwing towards people in the water.

One Magistrate in Majuli and one in Jorhat will be detailed to be present during departure and arrival of the ferries, and the magistrate will submit the daily report to the concerned DC, the statement added. Safety audits will be carried out for vessels by competent IWT officials before being put to use and the vessels must be inspected for their overall fitness, availability of firefighting and lifesaving equipment, competence of crew members, etc. Reliable communication network should be maintained between the master and in-charge of the ghat and they should regularly remain in contact over phone.

Training of all the masters and crew has to be undertaken on basic navigation stability, related rules in the water, firefighting, emergency operation, etc.The meeting also decided that one SDRF team will be stationed at Majuli and it will be kept in readiness to respond to any emergency. Master (In-charge of the Boat) of passenger ferry will not be changed without prior approval of competent authority of the IWT.

Principal Secretary, Transport, KK Dwivedi, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Samir Kumar Sinha, Commissioner, Transport, Adil Khan and other senior officers of Transport department were present at the meeting, the statement added.

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