Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the Inland Water Transport (IWT) department had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank for Rs 770 crores to upgrade river transportation in the state. The Centre will refund 80 per cent of the approved amount, and the state government will bear the left 20 per cent. The catamaran vessels were launched under a World Bank-funded project to blend high-quality passenger and vehicle services to Assam’s transport network system, he said.
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Assam’s culture and civilisation have been fed by the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers and their streams, but they also create communication challenges for people living on the banks, Sarma said. He said that after the Majuli boat accident in September, the state government had taken an aggressive path to make river transportation more hassle-free and secure. The recently launched vessels have the capacity of carrying 100 passengers and 50 two-wheelers and are powered with 180 HP twin engines which can travel at a speed of 10 knots forward speed. The vessels have advanced equipment like control and monitoring, communication and navigation, GPS, wind measurement, lifesaving, and firefighting equipment.