Rs 630 crore  WB  loan to improve  Assam’s ferry services

GUWAHATI: The World Bank has approved a loan of Rs. 630 crore to Assam Inland Water Transport (AIWT)  for modernization of the state’s passenger ferry services on the Brahmaputra and other rivers.

Under the Assam Inland Water Transport Project (AIWTP), the infrastructure of passenger ferry services will be improved and the capacity of institutions running the inland water transport 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.

On January 16, The loan agreement to be executed by Government of Assam, was signed between AIWTP and the 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.

The Indian delegation on behalf of Government of Assam was represented by Adil Khan, State Project Director, Assam Inland Water Transport Development Society (AIWTDS) and Rahul Chandra Das, Deputy State Project Director, AIWTDS.With the World Bank’s support, the 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, a government communiqué says.

Assam’s ferry services are integral to the lives of the people living both in 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 at 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 signages, 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.

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