Guwahati: They are the only means of transport between the North and South banks of the Brahmaputra in Dhubri in Assam but these flimsy, ageing and overcrowded boats are also omens of impending tragedy, like the one that happened just two days ago.
"In this accident an entire family of nine got swept away," says a resident. But for locals there is often no other lifeline to civilisation.
"We have been crossing for generations. No other way. It's cheaper. Depends on luck what you get," says a boat owner.
Even after the ferry disaster, boats packed with people are crossing the river. There are no safety regulations in place and doesn't seem to bother anyone.
In capital Guwahati, the boats look no better, fitted with poor quality engines and wood. Everyday they ply from North Guwahati to South Guwahati packed with passengers and motorbikes in blatant violation of all rules.
Assam has over a thousand kilometers of inland water ways. With the authorities failing to check safety violations, thousands of passengers have to travel at their own risk.