20 boat manufacturing firms get empanelled
Kolkata: Twenty boat manufacturing companies have got empanelled with the state government on Monday to manufacture standardised safe and robust passenger boats that will replace the existing around 12,000 unauthorised semi-mechanised boats operating in the state.
The state Transport department had decided to phase out the 12,000 unauthorised semi-mechanised boats after an accident that claimed several lives a few months ago. The twenty companies from different states of the country including Kerala, Odisha, Maharastra and Chennai have been empanelled. The companies including the major player in the sector Mahindra Marine has also got empanelled to build safer boats.
The steel or wooden boats will get manufactured as per the specifications following an outline designed by Shalimar Works Limited. There will be two types of boats with carrying capacity of 40 and 60 passengers and it costs Rs 9.3 lakh and Rs 14 lakh respectively.
Suvendu Adhikari, the state Transport minister, said: "Owners of the existing unauthorised semi-mechanised boats will get a financial assistance of Rs one lakh from the state government under the Jalodhara project to replace their boats with the new safe and robust ones. The state Transport department will also help such boat owners to get soft loans from banks for the remaining amount." There are around 350 jetties that are made of bamboos or wooden logs and the state Transport department would also take steps to replace those with safer ones.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said: "The Jalodhara project will be of immense help for people. Projects like Jalodhara and Gatidhara have played a major role in creating opportunities for those who have potential but do not get opportunities for lack of financial capital."
The state Transport department has also handed over four wooden launches to Diamond Harbour, Beldanga, Behrampore and Naihati Municipalities. Each of the boats have a capacity of carrying 100 passengers at a time.