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Night navigation facilities in Guwahati, Majuli soon

By Rituraj Borthakur
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GUWAHATI, March 21 - As part of a World Bank-funded project, the State�s Directorate of Inland Water Transport is in the process of putting in place night navigation facilities in Guwahati and Majuli.

�We are designing the project for which a consultant would be soon roped in. To make the river transport system economically viable, night navigation facilities are very essential,� IWT Director BB Dev Choudhury told The Assam Tribune.

Presently, ferries put request for plying at night time, and they are allowed during certain weather conditions. But, permission is not granted beyond 9 pm.

The IWT wants to put in place facilities which will allow round-the-clock plying of vessels on the Brahmaputra. Initially, the facilities like lights, signals and floating buoys would be developed in Guwahati and Majuli. Night navigation in these two places may begin in four months� time. Around Rs 3 crore are expected to be spent to put in place the facilities in these two locations.

The project is a component of the World Bank-funded USD 150 million Assam Inland Waterways Development Project.

The project was envisaged after the tragic boat mishap at Medartari in which some 200 (unofficial figures) people were killed. The World Bank has given Rs 16 crore for preparation of the project, for which the State government has formed and registered a society.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been engaged as the general consultant for the project.

A German firm has been given the task of making an Integrated Strategy Development Plan, which includes designing of the vessels, study the demand and requirement and develop the ghats and terminals in the State with state-of-the-art technology. Development of last mile connectivity, for linking the river transport system with roads and railways, is also part of this component. Moreover, a set of new laws and regulations would also come in force with the launch of the project.

As part of another component of the project, the IWT has sent a batch of 20 staff for a two-week training at the National Inland Navigation Institute, Patna. Another batch of 20 is undergoing computer training at the Administrative Staff College here. The government plans to train the staff of the IWT to create a pool of skilled manpower for handling the new systems that are being developed.

An Integrated Strategy for Business Plan is also being prepared to take IWT to the commercial level.

�The idea is that IWT should not just be another government agency. Private parties should be able to use the terminals and facilities we are developing,� Choudhury said.

The State government is also considering a proposal from the Bhutan government to allow the neighbouring country to use the State�s waterways to transport boulders to Bangladesh.

�We hope to prepare the project plan by this year end after which a presentation will be made before the World Bank and the Department of Economic Affairs of the Government of India for their nod,� the IWT Director added.

As part of the project, the IWT also plans to procure fibre retrofitted plastic vessels which can move on low draft. They will also have faster speed and consume less fuel. Moreover, the present vessels have steel hulls which are not easy to repair.

There are around 170 vessels under the IWT at present, but only around 69 are operational. But, there are some 4,000 private operators who ply mechanised boats (bhoot bhootis) on the Brahmaputra.

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Night navigation facilities in Guwahati, Majuli soon

GUWAHATI, March 21 - As part of a World Bank-funded project, the State�s Directorate of Inland Water Transport is in the process of putting in place night navigation facilities in Guwahati and Majuli.

�We are designing the project for which a consultant would be soon roped in. To make the river transport system economically viable, night navigation facilities are very essential,� IWT Director BB Dev Choudhury told The Assam Tribune.

Presently, ferries put request for plying at night time, and they are allowed during certain weather conditions. But, permission is not granted beyond 9 pm.

The IWT wants to put in place facilities which will allow round-the-clock plying of vessels on the Brahmaputra. Initially, the facilities like lights, signals and floating buoys would be developed in Guwahati and Majuli. Night navigation in these two places may begin in four months� time. Around Rs 3 crore are expected to be spent to put in place the facilities in these two locations.

The project is a component of the World Bank-funded USD 150 million Assam Inland Waterways Development Project.

The project was envisaged after the tragic boat mishap at Medartari in which some 200 (unofficial figures) people were killed. The World Bank has given Rs 16 crore for preparation of the project, for which the State government has formed and registered a society.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been engaged as the general consultant for the project.

A German firm has been given the task of making an Integrated Strategy Development Plan, which includes designing of the vessels, study the demand and requirement and develop the ghats and terminals in the State with state-of-the-art technology. Development of last mile connectivity, for linking the river transport system with roads and railways, is also part of this component. Moreover, a set of new laws and regulations would also come in force with the launch of the project.

As part of another component of the project, the IWT has sent a batch of 20 staff for a two-week training at the National Inland Navigation Institute, Patna. Another batch of 20 is undergoing computer training at the Administrative Staff College here. The government plans to train the staff of the IWT to create a pool of skilled manpower for handling the new systems that are being developed.

An Integrated Strategy for Business Plan is also being prepared to take IWT to the commercial level.

�The idea is that IWT should not just be another government agency. Private parties should be able to use the terminals and facilities we are developing,� Choudhury said.

The State government is also considering a proposal from the Bhutan government to allow the neighbouring country to use the State�s waterways to transport boulders to Bangladesh.

�We hope to prepare the project plan by this year end after which a presentation will be made before the World Bank and the Department of Economic Affairs of the Government of India for their nod,� the IWT Director added.

As part of the project, the IWT also plans to procure fibre retrofitted plastic vessels which can move on low draft. They will also have faster speed and consume less fuel. Moreover, the present vessels have steel hulls which are not easy to repair.

There are around 170 vessels under the IWT at present, but only around 69 are operational. But, there are some 4,000 private operators who ply mechanised boats (bhoot bhootis) on the Brahmaputra.

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