The Government of West Bengal plans to introduce electric vessels on the Hooghly, aiming to cut down on pollution by replacing the current fleet of old and rickety ferries, which West Bengal Pollution Control Board said, added to the air and water toxicity and noise level.
With a massive rise in passenger count using the ferry services across 28 ghats dotting the city and surroundings, the transport department wants to augment the facility, make it safe and at the same time, control pollution so that it turns into a viable means of commute that can ease the pressure on the road network, already creaking under the burden. “We are thinking of introducing at least two electric vessels to understand its viability in our ferry system,” said an official, adding the government was in the process of acquiring 20 modern vessels, complete with improved emission system.
The vessels used currently are reportedly big guzzlers of fuel and wreak havoc on the city’s ambient air because they also emit toxic fumes. “Though the pollutants from a ferry disperse fast because it’s all open on a river, the long-term harm being caused to the city’s ambient air is significant,” said a pollution control board official. So, the push for a shift to clean-fuel vessels; the 20 ferries that are being brought in will reportedly make little or no noise whatsoever.
This will be part of a government initiative to optimize underutilized river transport and tourism with a $151-million (Rs1,021-crore) assistance from World Bank. While the Centre’s Rs 5,369-crore Ganga Jal Marg project aims at seamless cargo movement along National Waterway-I from Varanasi to Haldia, the state is primarily exploring the potential of cargo and passenger movement on river.