The Assam Legislative Assembly on Tuesday paved the way for formation of a regulatory authority for promoting the overall operations of Inland Water Transport (IWT) department by enacting the Assam Inland Water Transport Regulatory Authority Act through a voice vote.
As the legislators debated on the merits of the bill with no consensus in sight, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami intervened and said, “If the members had so many issues, they should have raised when the Bill was introduced in the House. Now at the stage of consideration, such lengthy debate will not serve much purpose and cannot be allowed.”
“However, the issues and grievances raised by the members are of importance and I would form a committee consisting of MLAs from all parties to discuss the points raised here. The committee will meet very soon and a report of its discussions and suggestions shall be forwarded to the Transport Minister for onward submission to the regulatory authority, once it is formed,” he added.
Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, accepting the Speaker’s suggestion, pointed that the regulatory authority would frame the rules for the Inland Water Transport sector and provisions in the Act could be changed later, if found detrimental in any manner.
He maintained that safety of passengers was of paramount importance while drafting the Act and this aspect would not be allowed to be diluted in any manner at any stage.
The state has navigable waterways of about 1980 km length, of which the Brahmaputra river with a length of 891 km between the Bangladesh border at Dhubri on the west and Sadiya in the east is declared National Waterway No. 2.
Besides, 152 km length of Barak river was declared NW No. 16 and another 13 NWs were declared by government of India within the jurisdiction of the state of Assam.