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20 floating terminals for ghats in Assam

Guwahati, July 2: The inland water transport (IWT) department, Assam, will soon have 20 floating terminals in some of its ghats.

The terminals have been provided to the department under a Rs 450-lakh centrally-sponsored scheme.

The department has already been allotted four such terminals, each 17 metres long, while the rest will be distributed among the ghats, mainly in lower Assam.

“Bids for construction of the floating terminals were invited almost a decade back but the process got delayed because of legal hassles. Panchoi, a firm based in Panikhaiti (on the city’s outskirts), was finally selected. Four terminals have been distributed among the ghats in Guwahati and Dhubri while the rest which are now ready for use will soon be allotted,” an IWT official told The Telegraph today.

With the addition of these terminals, the number of such facilities owned by the department will go up to 40.

“However, we still face a shortage of about 140 such terminals. There are 97 ghats under three divisions — Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar and the requirement of such terminals is at least two on either ghat,” he said.

A survey conducted by the Inland Waterways Authority of India for construction of 12 RCC jetties in the ghats under the department had last year found the land not fit for the project. “For construction of concrete jetties, we need firm land, which was not found.”

There are currently only two RCC jetties in Assam — on the south bank of the Guwahati-north Guwahati ferry service and at Hailakandi.

In the absence of concrete jetties in a majority of the ghats, the official said the floating terminals would provide safe passage for commuters to board and get off ferries, particularly during the monsoon when the water level can get too high for comfort.

“The new terminals will soon be placed in areas such as Chunchali, Kuruwa and Mukalmua in lower Assam once the water level in the respective ghats is fit for their use. A depth of at least two metres is required for vessels to operate, which should not be a problem during the monsoon season,” he said.