Ro-Ro service to Assam's Majuli island begins

Ro-Ro service to Assam's Majuli island begins

M V Bhupen Hazarika, the vessel inaugurated on Thursday. (Photo credit: IWAI)

Over 1.5 lakh residents of Majuli, the country’s only island district in eastern Assam got a new reason to rejoice on Thursday as Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) started a Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) vessel that would reduce the travel distance from 423-km to 12.7-km.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the vessel on Thursday morning at Nematghat in Jorhat district, about 400km east of Guwahati, from where people take ferries to cross the Brahmaputra river to reach Majuli.

The 46.5-meter long and 13.3-meter wide vessel, named after Assamese cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika can transport eight trucks and 100 passengers.

“This is going to further boost transportation in Majuli, particularly in goods movement. This will benefit both general people and business activity in the island,” Sonowal, who is an MLA from the river island, said after inaugurating the vessel. The IWAI spent 9.46 crore for the vessel and the service was launched in association with the Assam government.

“The trucks carrying goods from Jorhat to Majuli now take the 423km road route via Tezpur and then the goods are sent in small ferries. But now the entire truck will be loaded in the new vessel at Nemati in Jorhat and transported to Majuli,” a statement issued by IWAI said.

Majuli, surrounded by the Brahmaputra is one of the biggest riverine islands in the world having 1.5 lakh residents in 144 villages and is also a centre of Vaisnavite culture. But residents of the island often face connectivity problems with the business centre Jorhat on the other bank.

“The commencement of Ro-Ro services to Majuli island would be a landmark event towards augmenting connectivity. Since there is no bridge connecting Majuli, people residing on either side of the river need to cross the river using conventional ferry service at various locations for their day to day needs. In the absence of a bridge, cargo and passenger movement through the longer road routes lead to critical loss of time and money,” said the statement.

Days after the BJP-led government came to power in Assam in June 2016, Majuli was declared a district, the first island district in the country. The district, however, continues to face serious erosion and flood problems and the government has failed to implement a comprehensive policy to address these issues.

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