The electric-cum-solar ferry boat that is being built by Aquarius Shipyard at Divar for the river navigation department (RND) will be ready by September-October, said senior government officials. They said that RND is open to the vessel being used for passengers as also for evening river cruises along the Mandovi and Zuari rivers.

Given that the solar-powered vessel costs more than Rs.4 crore to build, the navigation department currently does not see the viability in replacing the existing diesel-powered ferry boats which cost approximately Rs.60-70 lakh to build.

“We are looking at two options. One is to revive the Panaji-Aldona route for passengers and we are also open to cruises along the Mandovi and Zuari rivers,” said an official. “We will see the performance of the solar ferry for six months to a year and then decide what to do.”

Speaking recently at the Maritime India summit, captain of Ports (CoP) James Braganza had said that the keel for the electric solar boat had already been laid and was expected to be completed over six to seven months. The hybrid boat will have an operational speed of 12 knots and will be able to ferry 60 passengers.

In November 2018, a delegation from Goa visited Kerala which was the first to introduce solar-powered passenger vessels in India. From that visit, the delegation decided to commission a solar-powered ferry boat on a trial basis in Goa.

Meanwhile, RND is also phasing out older conventional ferry boats and is introducing newer ferryboats along existing ferry routes. “A contract for two ferries has been given to Vijai Marine. The newer ferries are a lot safer. Many of the ferries were more than 30 years old and suffered frequent breakdowns,” said a government official.

Source: Times of India