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GPS for 66 ferries in Assam

Guwahati, July 24: The Assam inland water transport (IWT) department has installed global positioning systems (GPS) in 66 operational ferries in the state.

“We have installed GPS in all our 66 operational vessels in the state to facilitate real-time tracking of the ferries. The facility, apart from tracking the ferries from one ghat to another, will help us deal with any contingency promptly and effectively,” an IWT official told The Telegraph today.

Of the 215 vessels currently under the department, only 66 are operational.

“The department had engaged a Guwahati-based firm to install the facility in its entire fleet last year.

“The process of inviting tenders was carried out last year and the department had selected a firm with knowledge of the local requirements. The move was also prompted by effective monitoring of two GPS-fitted vessels early last year,” the official said.

There are 97 ghats under three divisions — Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar.

Of the 66 vessels plying across rivers in the state, 15 of them operate between Guwahati and north Guwahati.

The IWT department’s control room at its directorate at Ulubari here provides real-time SMS alerts on the latest weather report to various subdivisions based on information provided by the Regional Meteorological Centre at Borjhar.

“Our section in-charges also provide information regarding passenger and cargo load of ferries across the state, among other details,” he said. On whether the department will procure any new vessels given the shortage of operational ferries in its ghats, the official said, “There are no plans to acquire new vessels in the current financial year.”

After the Medattari boat capsize, in which over 100 people were killed two years ago in Dhubri district, the department has adopted a cautious approach with an emphasis on strengthening surveillance and monitoring of ferries.

In June, the Dhubri district administration, at the insistence of the department, had constituted a committee to monitor the movement of ferries following a rise in the water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries.