Land acquisition and law and order problem bedevil the start of work on National Waterway-1 (NW-1) linking over a 1,390 km stretch from Haldia to Varanasi under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).
This came to fore at the Project Oversight Committee (POC) meeting on JMVP held here on Monday, which saw participation of senior officials from four states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Land acquisition, rehabilitation, law and order and security of river transport in future were the major issues discussed at the meeting.
The project that is expected to enable commercial navigation of 1,500-2,000 tonne vessels from Haldia to Varansai would see three multi-modal terminals (MMT) come up at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia at an estimated cost of Rs 1,154 crore.
However, officials are facing land acquisition and law and order problems in construction, POC officials said.
“Jharkhand government is actively helping in land acquisition. Of the required 180 acres of land in Sahibganj for MMT, 70 acres of land has already been handed over against which state government was paid Rs 130 crore. But, the contractor working there is facing problems from locals such as levy demand,” said Pravir Pandey, vice chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
The IWAI has awarded the contract to construct a MMT in Sahibganj with a cargo handling capacity of 2.28 million tonnes per annum to Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T).
Local people and some hooligans are reportedly demanding jobs and levy from the agency.
Similar problem is being faced by the contractor working in West Bengal. “However, the West Bengal government took immediate action and sensitised local police for protection of the ongoing work. We expect similar promptness from the Jharkhand government,” Pandey said.
Land acquisition for the proposed MMT at Kalughat in Bihar, where four hectares of land is required, is yet to be started. “The Bihar government had some apprehensions over construction of barrage on Ganga. We met chief minister Nitish Kumar in April this year and made it clear that no dam or barrage would be constructed on the river. The government has now expedited the land acquisition process,” Pandey said, adding a ship repairing centre is likely to be set up in Bihar’s Doriganj area.
The land acquisition process is also tardy in Uttar Pradesh. “Of the required 33 hectares of land, we got 15 hectares where the construction of MMT has begun. However, the new government in Uttar Pradesh has sped up the process and we are expecting to get required land soon.”
IWAI officials also proposed states’ plan for constituting river police. “Once the project gets started, security of river transport would be required and the state governments would have to take the responsibility,” Verma said.