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Short-Term Measure Approached: Bhut-Bhutis and Country Made Boats Banned

Short-Term Measure Approached: Bhut-Bhutis and Country Made Boats Banned

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  12 Sep 2018 6:55 AM GMT

As and when there is an accident or a boat capsize

the government becomes very active all of a sudden and takes a number of rampant steps, often without taking into accounts their ramifications.

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 11: State Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary has declared that no mechanized country boats (bhut-bhutis) will be allowed to ply on in the entire river system of the Brahmaputra till further order. He has also announced that all single-engine ferries have to be converted to double-engine ones with reversible gears.

Well! The declaration implies the minister’s concern over the safety of passengers. But what alternative mode of transportation does the riparian population in the State have? For around 70 per cent of the riparian people in the State bhuti-bhutis are the dependable means of communication. Such an over dependence on this single-engine boats is the outcome of lack of adequate number of vessels in the Inland Water Transport under the State Transport Department. As and when there is an accident or a boat capsize the government becomes very active all of a sudden and takes a number of rampant steps, often without taking into accounts their ramifications. It seems, the step taken by the State Transport Minister is no different. When the department cannot provide any alternative to the existing mode of inland water transportation, it has to get things right in phases. Does not the minister know that most of parghats in the State have been given on lease, and that the lessees have been running them at their own whims – without adhering to any safety standard? There are allegations of a syndicate, backed by politicians, being active on leasing out some of the parghats in the State. What else can expose the department best that there is no authorized technically-sound official in its system to inspect the fitness of bhut-bhutis ferrying passengers in the Brahmaputra and other rivers in the State? The minister’s reaction to the accident is knee-jerk, so is his announcement.

Patowary visited the Directorate of Inland Water Transport office and conducted a review meeting on Monday.

“As per the safety norms, there must be one lifejacket for each passenger in the vessel and it will be mandatory for each passenger to put on the lifejacket while boarding the vessel,” Patowary said at the review meeting. He further instructed that the deputy commissioners shall conduct safety audit of the ferry vessels within their respective districts.

The minister also took stock of the World Bank-funded project preparation and reform measures initiated during the last one-and-a-half years. The World Bank-funded project will address the sector reforms holistically, for which ‘Inros Lackner’ – the German-based consultant has submitted the inception report and the vessel design and terminal design are being readied.

The Transport Department has been working on a Regulatory Bill for the last six months and the ‘Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganization Act’ is ready to be placed before the Assam Legislative Assembly during the forthcoming session for approval.

The Act will facilitate the setting up of a separate regulatory authority and separate port and shipping management companies, taking into the considerations of the recommendations of the Khosla Committee Report submitted in 2013.

In addition to this, there has been better coordination with Inland Waterways Authority of India and one Ro-Ro service has already been introduced in the Dhubri-Hatsingimari route. The second and third Ro-Ro service will be introduced in Majuli-Kamalabari and Guwahati-North Guwahati in October and December respectively.

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