Big island formation in Ganga hits navigation, water supply to Silk City
With the Ganga drifting northwards and the emergence of a huge sand bar right in the middle of the stream, river navigation has been affected as also the water supply to the Silk City from its Barai Water Works.
Officials here say that immediate dredging operations are needed over 1,700m to provide water depth for bigger ships to sail under the Vikramshila Bridge, but operations have been slow.
The Bhagalpur stretch of the Ganga is a vital cog in the stretch declared National Waterway no. 1 — massive work, worth ₹5,000 crore and with the assistance of the World Bank, is already underway to facilitate navigation along the 1,620km of the river stretch.
The work includes development of three multi-modal hubs at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Haldia in West Bengal, and Sahebganj in Jharkhand, the last project being just 60km east of Bhagalpur, under a plan unveiled by Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for transport.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), under the shipping ministry, is also facilitating cruise operations on NW-1 from Kolkata to Varanasi in collaboration with private cruise operators.
IWAI officials here said the river has abandoned its original course and in certain areas huge sand bars have formed and are proving to be impediments in navigation. A large island has formed in the river, following sharp reduction in water, and the shallow areas present difficulties in the way of dredging.
The Gangetic mainstream, earlier flowing close to the south bank along Bhagalpur, located 240km east of Patna, has now shifted course in a northward loop to flow along Naugachhia near Khagaria district. This has reduced water in ship pathways on the southern side.
In order to ensure sufficient flow of water in the channel, the IWAI now aims to dig a pilot channel by undertaking dredging work.
Prashant Kumar, deputy director, IWAI sub-office at Sahebganj in Jharkhand, said though it is now nearly a month since work was initiated, only about 700m could be cleared.
Kumar said that due to insufficient horizontal and vertical clearance below the northern arches of the bridge, linking north to south Bihar, and the increasing water level, it is often risky for bigger tourist and cargo vessels to navigate through the northern arches.
The shift of the river has also hit water supply to different localities of the city from the Barari Water Works, making it necessary that the dredging bring back the water channel closer to town through a pilot channel for water harvesting purposes.
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