Directorate of Inland Water Transport recently announced a project for night navigation facilities in Guwahati and Majuli. IWT Director said that it is a World Bank-funded project and the step has been taken to make the river transport system economically viable. A sum of 3 crore rupees will be spent to install the facilities in Majuli and Guwahati. Night navigation in these two places may begin in four months’ time. . Initially, the facilities like lights, signals and floating buoys would be developed in Guwahati and Majuli.
IWT has also sent 20 staff for two-week training at the National Inland Navigation Institute, Patna. Another batch of 20 is undergoing computer training at the Administrative Staff College here. The government plans to train the staff of the IWT to create a pool of skilled manpower for handling the new systems that are being developed. Director of IWT said they are hoping to prepare the project plan by this year end after which a presentation will be made before the World Bank and the Department of Economic Affairs of the Government of India for their nod.
As part of the project, the IWT also plans to procure fiber retrofitted plastic vessels which can move on low draft. They will also have faster speed and consume less fuel. Moreover, the present vessels have steel hulls which are not easy to repair. There are around 170 vessels under the IWT at present, but only around 69 are operational. But, there are some 4,000 private operators who ply mechanized boats (bhoot bhootis) on the Brahmaputra.