Assam boat capsize: Four Inland Water Transport officials suspended, says transport minister

Guwahati: Four Inland Water Transport (IWT) department officials were suspended on Thursday in connection with the boat capsize incident in Brahmaputra river near Guwahati, which had claimed three lives, a state minister said.

The suspended IWT officials include an executive engineer and two section officers, Assam transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary was quoted as saying in an official release.

Three persons drowned and at least 11 went missing after an overloaded motorised country boat capsized when it hit a rock on Wednesday.

 Assam boat capsize: Four Inland Water Transport officials suspended, says transport minister

A boat carrying 36 passengers capsized in the Brahmaputra River near Ashwaklanta Temple in Kamrup district of Assam, on Wednesday. PTI

Patowary said mechanised country boat services on the Brahmaputra river in parts of the state capital have already been suspended since Wednesday, and the order will remain effective during the entire monsoon season.

The minister said that 10 additional buses of ASTC have been introduced to and fro North Guwahati. "Three new vessels for ferry service between North Guwahati and Guwahati will be introduced this month for public convenience," Patowary said.

The state transport department is also ready with a draft bill for the constitution of a regulatory authority.

The Assam Inland Water Transport Reorganisation Act will be placed before the Assam Assembly during the forthcoming session for approval, he said.

The bill will lead to independent and strict regulation of the safety and enforcement measures related to ferry service in the rivers of the state, including the Brahmaputra and the Barak.

Henceforth, registration, its timely renewal and fitness certification will be mandatory for all vessels and boats operating in the rivers of the state, the release said.

To restructure the IWT for better and effective public service, three bodies — a regulatory authority, Assam Shipping Company and Assam Port Company — will be constituted under the Act for management of the respective sectors, it said.

The minister also said a Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) service will be started in the state at Majuli island district by the end of this year and another at Guwahati by January, 2019.

The state government has already initiated the modernisation of inland water transport in the state with financial aid from the World Bank, which has come forward with Rs 1,000 crore aid for development of Assam's water terminals and jetties, and addition of modern vessels, the release said.

Measures like development of five port cities at Jogighopa, Neamatighat, Dibrugarh, Biswanath and Silchar are in the pipeline, Patowary added.

Meanwhile, the Jorhat district administration in Assam on Thursday ordered strict vigil on ferry movement between Neamatighat and Majuli.

Jorhat deputy commissioner Narayan Konwar has instructed the executive engineer of IWT Jorhat division to monitor all water vehicles, including motor-boats, motorised country boats, passenger or goods ferries, besides verifying the boats' fitness certificates.

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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 22:03:42 IST