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Inland Waterways an integral part of infrastructure development: Nitin Gadkari

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi:  “Inland Waterways is economically most viable sector and, as such, it should be an integral part of infrastructure development in the country,” Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said during an event on Tuesday.

Speaking during the inaugural address at the ‘National Conference on Inland Waterways: Issues, Options and Strategies’, Gadkari said, “The development of inland waterways would lower the logistics cost of production and, in turn, make the prices of the products more competitive in the global market. ” Moreover, this sector has a huge potential for generating employment for the youth, he added.

Mentioning the growing enthusiasm among investors for the PPP model in the road sector, Gadkari said that the possibility of applying this model in inland waterways sector is being studied.

He further said that the feasibility of joint ventures are also being explored as Centre and State Governments have to work together to bring this sector in the forefront of infrastructure development.

Government plans to establish facilities for ship-building and ship-repairing at Guwahati, Kandla and Andaman & Nicobar in near future, the minister added.

In the same vein, 300 light houses and 1100 islands would be developed as tourist hubs.

He also expressed the hope that the Bill for the declaration of 101 waterways as National Waterways would have the passage in the forthcoming session of the Parliament.

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Holy Dip in Garbage Floating Ganges River: A big Cause of Concern for Hindus

The pristine waters of the Ganges river as it gushes down the Himalayas have long turned into a toxic sludge due to garbage, untreated sewage and industrial waste dumped into it

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A pile of garbage lies on the riverbank along the Ganges riverfront known as "Har ki Pauri," the most sacred spot in the Hindu holy town of Haridwar where devotees throng. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

On a gray monsoon morning, Darshana Kapoor picks her way gingerly through the slush on the riverbank after taking a dip in the Ganges River in Haridwar town, one of the most revered spots for Hindus.

But the ritual bath that Hindus believe absolves a lifetime of sins was not an uplifting experience for her. “My faith brought me here, but when I see the garbage floating in the river, I felt so bad. I had to scrub myself,” she said.

Haridwar, India

She was not exaggerating. The Central Pollution Control Board has said that the water of the Ganges at Haridwar is not fit for bathing.

The murky condition of the mighty Ganges is a letdown for thousands of devotees who flock daily to the pilgrim town, some for a ritual dip, some to immerse the ashes of their loved ones or to take part in a colorful prayer ceremony held every evening to celebrate the Ganges, which devotees call “Maa” or mother.

Hundreds of Hindus take a ritual dip in the Ganges at Haridwar believing it absolves a lifetime of sins. (A. Pasricha/VOA)
Hundreds of Hindus take a ritual dip in the Ganges at Haridwar believing it absolves a lifetime of sins. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

These devotees were hoping to see results from a flagship $3 billion initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revive the river, particularly in Hinduism’s holiest towns such as Haridwar and Varanasi.

The pristine waters of the river as it gushes down the Himalayas have long turned into a toxic sludge due to garbage, untreated sewage and industrial waste dumped into it as it courses through booming pilgrim and industrial towns along the vast, populous plains of North India. It is a huge concern because the river is a water source for some 400 million people.

After his victory in 2014, Modi had acknowledged the failure of an expensive three-decade long effort to rejuvenate the Ganges, and vowed to succeed where his predecessors did not.

But three years after the Hindu nationalist leader’s pledge, the once-mighty river is still dying, say environmental activists.