Ferries were back on River Hooghly in West Bengal on Monday after an over two-month-long hiatus owing to the lockdown, officials said. The passengers were limited to 40 per cent of the capacity of each vessel to ensure social distancing and no one was allowed to board the ferries without masks as per directions of state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari.
Around 70 passengers were allowed in each vessel prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) and a cooperative started operating vessels on nine routes across the river, the officials said.
Some of the reactivated routes are Howrah-Fairlie, Kuthighat-Belur, Noorpur-Gadiara, Nazirganj-Metiabruj, Ramkrishnapur-Chandpal, and Howrah-Bagbazar via Ahiritola and Sovabazar, the WBTC officials said.
All the passengers were thermally screened before being allowed to board the ferries, they said.
The vessels will operate between 8 am and 6 pm with a frequency of one hour, as per the minister.
Ferries operated by panchayat samities and cooperatives in other parts of the state were also allowed to operate from Monday with strict adherence to social distancing and other safety norms, the officials said.
Ferries form an important mode of transport in riverine West Bengal.