The Central government has gifted four modern Ro-Pax vessels to Assam. The four vessels – MV Rani Gaidinliu, MV Sachin Dev Burman, MV JFR Jacob and MV Bob Khathing – arrived in the State some days back. “The vessels – made at the Cochin Shipyard Limited – have been registered in West Bengal,” official sources said. MV Sachin Dev Burman and MV Rani Gaidinliu have been placed at Neamatighat and they will cater to the passengers of Majuli. MV JFR Jacob and MV Bob Khathing have been placed at Guwahati, and one of them is likely to be operated at Dhubri. These four vessels will replace three Ro-Ro vessels operated by the Inland Waterways Authority of India which were plagued by frequent disruptions. Lack of trained and experienced manpower as well as the required logistics for the sophisticated Ro-Ro vessels worth several crores of rupees was the reason for their withdrawal within months of launch.
“The new Ro-Pax vessels have low draft, good manoeuvrability in comparison to the earlier Ro-Ro vessels which had less manoeuvrability due to bigger size and high draft for which it faced difficulty in plying over the Brahmaputra,” sources said.
The Ro-Pax vessels have 145 seats and additional benches for 55 passengers. Four trucks and a few dozen motorcycles can also be transported on these vessels along with passengers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to launch the four new vessels before Diwali at a virtual function. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary will be present in Majuli on the occasion, the sources said.
The State’s IWT directorate has around 108 machine-fitted vessels – a majority of them very old. Many of them are lying defunct.