Foundation of multimodal terminal project has been laid over River Ganga by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6th of April at Jharkhand. The terminal is part of the National Waterway -1 project that aims to ply large barges on the Ganga for transport of goods. The depth of water is less in large stretches of the river because the amount of water is less. It is necessary to increase the depth of the water to enable large ships to ply on it. For this purpose dredging is done. The sand on one side of the riverbed is removed to make a deep channel. The entire water of the river then flows through this dredged channel. The velocity of flow of water in this channel increases because of the higher volume. This leads to erosion on that side.
We give below photo of the Ganga upstream of Farakka. The area seen in the picture was land few years ago. The Inland Waterways Authority and the Farakka Barrage Project have done dredging on this side leading to erosion.
Large numbers of people living on this land previously have been forced to shift and are now living on temporary shelters made on the embankments as seen below.
Dredging also disturbs the habitat of the aquatic life like fishes. The aquatic animals depend upon the underwater plants growing in the river for their food. Dredging destroys these plants, and deprives the fishes of food. The fishes become weak and cannot perform the function of cleaning the river.
Dredging leads to some hardy plants taking over the entire underwater habitat. We give below photo of the right banks of the Ganga upstream of Farakka Barrage. One can see only hyacinths growing here. The hyacinth kills other underwater plants which are food of the fishes.
Transportation over the river will lead to ships emitting carbon dioxide gas close to the river water. More of this poisonous gas will be absorbed by the river water. There will be some leakage of lubricants from the ship. Some accidents are bound to happen, leading to heavy spills. These will contribute to the pollution of river water.
The Inland Waterways Authority has approached the World Bank for loan to implement the project. We have brought these and other negative impacts of the project to the attention of the IWAI and the World Bank. Copies of our representations are available.
We congratulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trying to clean up the Ganga. Those efforts will be wasted if dredging is done on the Ganga to convert her into a National Waterway. We implore Mr Modi to reconsider this project so that dredging is not done and the fishes and underwater plants of the Ganga are saved. That alone will conserve the Ganga.