GUWAHATI, Sept 21 - The dormant District Task Force, responsible for checking excess passenger load in ferries and boats, has been activated, even as the ban on plying of vessels on the Brahmaputra in the city continued.
The task force, comprising representatives from different line departments, including police, will be responsible for enforcement of rules and regulations by the boats and ferries, sources said.
Meanwhile, Inland Waterways Director BB Dev Choudhury today held a meeting with boat operators to review various security aspects following the mishap on September 5.
�We have made it clear that the government will not allow boats to ply unless they adhere to some strict guidelines. Every vessel will have to have double engine. There must be a life jacket against each passenger and they cannot carry excess load. The boat operators had some reservations, but we have made it clear that there cannot be any compromise on the safety aspect. We have asked them to revert after a week,� Choudhury said.
Once the boat operators agree to the guidelines, the government will conduct a safety audit of the vessels and then take a call on allowing them to ply on the river routes.
The boat services were suspended after the mishap on September 5 in which four passengers had died after the vessel�s engine stopped functioning and it hit piers constructed for the water supply project. The boat was carrying more than double the number of passengers it could carry.
The private boat operators have sought government subsidy to install double engines. �Most of the vessels in the city and North Guwahati were made in such a way that only one engine can be installed. To fix another engine, the structure needs to be changed,� they said.
Around 25,000 to 30,000 people ply on the Brahmaputra river routes in the city daily. The number of private vessels is around 150. The IWT operates some 16 vessels.
Malfunctioning of boat engines is a regular feature on the river route, and it is primarily due to lack of maintenance and surveillance. Also, most of the vessels carry excess numbers of passengers in extremely dangerous conditions.