GUWAHATI, Jan 17: The World bank has signed a loan agreement with Assam government for Rs. 630 crore loan to Assam Inland Water Transport (AIWT) for modernisation of the state’s passenger ferry services on the Brahmaputra and other rivers.
The loan agreement was signed between Assam Inland Water Transport Project (AIWTP) to be executed by Assam government and country director, India, World Bank in presence of additional secretary (FB & ADB), department of economic affairs, ministry of finance, government of India in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Indian delegation on behalf of Assam government was represented by Adil Khan, state project director, AIWTDS and Rahul Chandra Das, Deputy state project director, AIWTDS.
With the World Bank’s support, the state government will create an institutional framework to turn inland waterways into a mode of transport which is both attractive and well-suited to the people.
Under the AIWTP, the infrastructure of passenger ferry services will be improved and the capacity of institutions running the IWT will be strengthened.
Better-designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels will make the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption to nature. Of the total project cost of Rs 770 crore, the bank will provide Rs 630 crore.
Assam’s ferry services are integral to the lives of the people living both in the Brahmaputra Valley and Barak Valley. With better navigation aid, appropriate safety gear and suitable marine engines, the ferry services are expected to get more reliable and safer. The project will also help build modern ferry terminals. It will follow the ‘working with nature’ principle that aim to design new infrastructure and rehabilitate the existing one in a way that works with natural river processes. The project will be initiated in Guwahati and Majuli.
The project will also improve the infrastructure of ferry services and focus on safety of women passengers. The terminals will have better access, lighting and signage, while the new vessels will be equipped with individual seats and washroom facility. A strengthened regulatory regime will ensure reduced overloading, adherence to time schedule and better crew standards.