PATNA Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said the time was ripe for taking a call on the decommissioning of the Farakka barrage as it had led to huge deposition of silt in the Ganga riverbed and resulted in increasing the magnitude of flood devastation in 12 riparian districts of the state over the years.
“In addition to the recurring flood problem, the barrage is hindering the natural silt flow. Today, a comprehensive silt management policy is the need of the hour to maintain the unhindered flow of all major rivers, including the Ganga, if we are really keen to save the life giving Ganga from dying a slow death,” he said.
He was speaking at the Lok Samvad programme at the Samvad Bhavan.
The chief minister also underscored his protest against the move to build a barrage and reservoir near Buxar and in Uttar Pradesh for creating a waterway route from Allahabad to Haldia. “It will further hinder the free flow of the river that was becoming shallower with each passing day,” he said.
Maintaining that he had been flagging the issue on different forums much before the Ganga River Basin Authority was created, Kumar said: “I had shown the increase in silt deposition to the then Union minister in the UPA government, Pawan Bansal. Last year, I had also apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi in detail of the reasons behind the growing intensity of the devastation caused by floods in the state.”
Kumar said many experts had endorsed his views and also pointed out disadvantages of the Farakka barrage. “The engineer, involved with the project, had also given his dissenting note. But he was forced to leave the job,” Kumar said, adding “his apprehensions have come true”.
Flanked by state water resources minister Lallan Singh, the chief minister said there was no benefit from the barrage, which has been the genesis of recurring floods. “If the riverbed remains shallow, flood waters will spill over and devastate more areas. I have never seen floodwaters entering Bakhtiyarpur. Katihar floodwaters took a long time to recede. The barrage needs to be decommissioned to ensure the natural flow of the Ganga for its rejuvenation and better silt management,” he said.
Low cost water treatment model
Chief minister Nitish Kumar said the government was keen to replicate the low cost water treatment model developed by environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, as it was crucial to the success of one of the seven resolves for governance that aimed to provide a pucca drain in every village.
A team of top government officials had accompanied him on the trip to Punjab, where they saw how the Seechewal model treated waste and sewerage water collected in a pit, using indigenous methods, for reuse for irrigation and other purposes. “We will be facing similar challenges once the pucca drain scheme is in place,” Kumar said.
He said Seechewal had also been invited to attend a two-day international seminar on the topic ‘Ganga ki Aviralta’, beginning February 25, to discuss how an unhindered flow of the Ganga could be achieved, without which the idea for its rejuvenation cannot be complete. Later, a seminar in which noted environmentalist and water management experts are expected to take part was also slated in Malda.
Kumar said that during his Punjab tour, he also paid a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Jallianwala Bagh.