Within a day of introducing a pair of new mechanised boats by the state transport department, ferry services between Kalna and Nrisinghapur in Nadia were halted by the passengers protesting against hike in fares.

The commuters protested the fare hike from Rs 3 to Rs 5. Everyday, nearly a thousand commuters avail the Kalna – Nrisinghapur ferry service on the Bhagirathi and the Kalna terminal is governed by the Kalna Municipality.

The state had taken to improvise the inter-district waterway after an overcrowded boat capsized in Kalna terminal in May 2016 when 20 passengers drowned helplessly.

The state had introduced life-jackets in the ferrying boats and divers and buoys were made mandatory in each of the ferry terminals across the district. Also, a Rs 6.20 crore infrastructure development plan for the 21 ferry terminals across Burdwan (East) were forwarded to the Transport department by the district administration in June 2016.

The Transport department meanwhile had provided a police surveillance boat to keep the ferry services in order.

But the authority was failing to negotiate some technical flaws as most of the boats used in the ferry services were not meeting the state prescribed stipulations and were equipped with diesel engine sets commonly used for irrigation. Yesterday, the transport department introduced two launch motorboats and another launch is set to arrive this week. The civic body agreed to enhance the price, which the passenger’s body, however, refused to accept and hence services were halted by the agitating passengers.

As stated, Dhananjoy Pal, one office bearer of Kalna – Nadia Daily Passenger’s Community: “Why should we pay more? They were supposed to give us better and safe services as our chief minister insists to maintain ‘safe drive, save life’ but the ferry authority is asking money for that.”

Mr Debaprasad Bag, Chairman, Kalna Municipality said: “The launches are stateof-the-art vehicles and are costly. We wanted to help realise the involved costs so a meagre Rs 2 per ticket was increased.”