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The Portuguese-era diesel-powered ferry boats, that ply in the inland water routes of Goa, will give way to solar energy-backed vessels by June next year, a minister said today. The proposal for the new ferry boats will be ready in the next six months and constructing them would take another six months, River Navigation Minister Sudin Dhavalikar said. He said the Goa government would soon release an advertisement seeking "Expression of Interest" to construct the ferry boats. "We are yet to take the call on whether to run the services on public-private partnership basis.
The solar-powered ferry boats would be ready to be pressed into service by June 2018," he said. The minister said that officials from the River Navigation department (RND) had visited Kochi in Kerala this week where such solar-powered ferry boats are in use. Dhavalikar said the state can't imitate the Kochi model of ferry service as the passengers are charged there (in the Kerala town)), while in Goa the services are offered free of cost. The RND department is currently servicing 20 ferry boat routes with a fleet of 39 vessels, which run on diesel. While bridges have been constructed across several rivers, people living in the places like Diwar and Chorao islands still rely on these boats to travel to the mainland.