And a river runs through it

Integrating the Brahmaputra’s innumerable ferries into Assam’s wider transport network

Anyone who has visited Assam cannot help but being struck by the mighty Brahmaputra. The river straddles the state like a colossus, coursing through its heart, and severing it into two – the northern and southern banks. During the monsoon, so vast is the river’s expanse – almost 20 km in parts – that you cannot see the other side. And so fearsome can be its waters that the Brahmaputra is India’s only river to have a masculine name; all the others have feminine appellations. Yet, just four bridges, including India’s longest bridge that was recently inaugurated on its tributary the Lohit – and one more under construction – span the state’s entire 900 km stretch of river.
 
Given this formidable natural barrier, most of Assam’s towns have developed on the river’s southern flank, where the plains are wider. With little connectivity, the northern side remains cut off from the mainstream, and is largely underdeveloped.

 
What’s more, small communities who live on the river’s hundred or so inhabited islands, remain isolated. It can be quite frustrating to see a school or a medical center on the other side and not be able to get to it! Only Majuli, the world’s largest riverine island and an administrative district by itself, supports schools and some form of medical facilities for its more than 100,000 residents.

by · Monday, 21 August 2017 · India