Nitish opposes Centre’s inland waterways project on Ganga

Patna, Feb 25 (IANS) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday publicly announced that he and his government are against the central government’s proposed Allahabad-Haldia national inland waterways project on the river Ganga via the state.

“We are against the national inland waterways project and would oppose it if the central government goes ahead with it,” Nitish Kumar said at an international conference on “Incessant Ganga” here, attended by water, river and environment experts from India and abroad.

He said: “We will not accept national inland waterways project because it is not in the interest of Bihar and the country, as it will pose serious danger to the river Ganga, which is already fighting for its survival.”

The Chief Minister said the upstream of the river is already in bad shape and now the central government’s plan will destroy its downstream as well. For the proposed project, a series of barrages would have to be constructed, which will be a big hurdle for an incessant Ganga, he said.

“If dredging is done for the national inland waterways project, it is bound to destroy this river. I strongly fear that the river Ganga will become extinct for such moves, as it will create more problems for an incessant Ganga,” Nitish Kumar said.

He also flayed the idea of constructing riverine ports along the river.

Speaking before the Chief Minister, Bihar Water Resources Minister Lalan Singh said the state government will not approve the inland waterways plan. “We have made it clear that Bihar will oppose it and will not allow it,” he said.

The construction of waterways would create huge siltation in the river due to the construction of ports, which would increase the chances of various Bihar cities getting affected with floods, the minister said.

Nitish Kumar was backed by the “Water Man of India”, Rajendra Singh. “Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s plan of dredging of the river Ganga for national inland waterways project is a dangerous one. I appeal to Nitish Kumar not to give clearance for such project in Bihar.”

When constructed, the proposed Allahabad to Haldia national waterways will be the longest one in the country, with a distance of 1,620 km. The project will not only prove good for transportation of goods but also for river cruises.

The project envisages construction of permanent and floating terminals at various places in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Gadkari has repeatedly claimed that Bihar will benefit from the inland waterways project that will facilitate transportation of cargo between Haldia and Allahabad via Patna.

–IANS

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