GUWAHATI, Sept 27 - Following an outcry after several boat mishaps across the State in the recent months, the government will now bring The Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Bill as part of its effort to reform the inland waterways transport (IWT) system.
Speaking during Zero Hour in the Legislative Assembly today, Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said lack of reforms over the years has hampered the IWT system in Assam.
He said most of the big ferries now being plied by the department in the waterways of the State were purchased many years ago, and lack of a regulatory authority has resulted in violation of rules by private operators.
�In the last two years, we have tried to bring about a change and reform the functioning of the department. As part of it, The Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Bill will be introduced in the ongoing session of the Assembly,� the minister said.
Patowary said the government was determined to bring about a change in the IWT system in Assam and as part of it, restrictions have been put in place against plying of single-engine boats.
�We will be strict in ensuring that only double-engine boats are allowed to ply. There will be no compromise. Besides, safety aspects will have to be strictly adhered to. There will have to be provisions of life jackets in ferries for all passengers as well as briefings on safety,� he said.
The Transport Minister said the government will fix rules regarding the kind of vessels that can ply in particular waterways, the number of passengers allowed, the fare structure, registration of vessels, fitness certificate and other details.
The World Bank will provide Rs 1,000 crore for revival of the IWT sector in Assam, and the funds will be used for new ships, Patowary said, adding that the government has already held talks with the Cochin Shipyard in this regard.
Earlier, raising the issue during Zero Hour, AGP MLA Utpal Dutta said the issue of safety of passengers has become paramount in view of the recent boat mishaps in Assam.