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Remove Farakka barrage to save Bihar from floods, says Nitish

Nitish Kumar made the demand a day after the overflowing waters of the Ganga river entered Patna city and created fear among residents living in localities near its banks

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Bihar, August 21, 2016 On Sunday Chief Minister Nitish Kumar demanded removal of the Farakka barrage on the Ganga river and the formulation of a national silt management policy to protect the state from devastating floods in Bihar.

“It is not possible to protect Bihar from devastating floods without removal of Farakka barrage on the Ganga river,” Nitish Kumar told the media here before going for an aerial survey of the flood-affected six districts — including Patna, where the situation has worsened due to rising water level in the Ganga and its tributaries.

Representational Image. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Nitish Kumar made the demand a day after the overflowing waters of the Ganga river entered Patna city and created fear among residents living in localities near its banks.

“I have been raising this demand for some time but the central government has so far ignored it,” he said.

Nitish Kumar said the Farakka barrage on the Ganga river in West Bengal has brought big disadvantage for Bihar. “It is for the central government to make a fresh study or research on damage by the Farakka barrage to Bihar.”

He said silt deposited in the Ganga in Bihar due to the barrage is something the central government should take care of to save the state from devasting floods every year.

Nitish Kumar said silt management is the right answer to the problem. “Formulation of a national silt management policy is a must now for ensuring uninterrupted flow of water not only in Ganga, but all the other rivers.”

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Meanwhile, Bihar Disaster Management Department Principal Secretary Vayasji told media here that there is no threat of flood to Patna. “I would like to appeal to people not to go by rumours or reports in some media; there is no threat of flood in Patna, it is safe,” he said.

The Chief Minister said five teams of the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) have been deployed in flood affected districts for relief and rescue operations.

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According to officials of the water resources development department, the Ganga has been flowing above the danger mark and the situation is alarming. All the drains, which lead into the river, have been sealed in view of the rising river water level.

An alert has been issued and the administration has appealed to people to keep calm. (IANS)

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A Clean Ganga Not Possible Without Continuous Flow: Green

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made

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The Holy River Ganga in Haridwar, Source: Pixabay

By Bappaditya Chatterjee

The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.

“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.

Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.

 

Ganga, travel
River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.

 

Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

 

River Ganga is one of the holiest, yet the most polluted river.
River Ganga is also the most polluted river.

Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.

Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”

 

Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.

However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.

Also Read: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Inaugurates Bogibeel Bridge Over Brahmaputra River

Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.

Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)