Guwahati, Sept 28: In a significant leap in Assam’s transportation infrastructure, a strategic addition to the state’s inland water transport (IWT) fleet was made with the flagging off of 10 steel catamaran vessels, three tug boats and a search and rescue vessel on the Brahmaputra here.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ceremonially launched the vessels and boats at Lachit Ghat on Thursday in the presence of transport minister Parimal Suklabaidya.
Sources said the strategic fleet expansion was an initiative to harness the vast potential of Assam’s abundant river systems. The introduction of the vessels, officials claim, is set to redefine inland water transport in the state, offering numerous benefits in terms of efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability.
The chief minister also emphasised the significance of the expansion in his address. “We are working on a Rs 700-cr plan to modernise Assam’s inland waterways. Today marked a significant step towards this goal,” Sarma said.
“We will soon start a hop-on hop-off ferry service connecting major religious centres around Guwahati,” he said.
Notably, the introduction of the 10 catamaran vessels worth Rs 38.43 crore, with carrying capacity of 100 passengers and 50 motorbikes, are set to redefine the way people and goods traverse across Assam’s waterways. These modern vessels can operate at high speed even in low-draught river water.
“The twin-hulled design of the vessels ensures a comfortable and secure journey for passengers, transforming their travel experience on our inland waterways. With exceptional stability, increased passenger and cargo capacity, and environmentally conscious design, the catamaran vessels will additionally offer a sustainable and efficient mode of transportation,” an official statement said.
It may be mentioned here that in 2021, the Assam government launched the first set of 10 catamaran vessels, which are currently under operations at Guwahati, Jorhat and Dhubri division of IWT.
According to data available from e-ticketing services, as many as 99, 92,419 passengers have commuted by these catamaran vessels till July 2023.