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Deposit of silts in the riverbeds of Ganga since long become the matter of concern, now has started potent threats to human lives and property.
The receding tendency of river Ganga and the strong winter winds has accelerated soil erosion in a greater magnitude at Rani diara (island of river Ganga) areas falling under Kahalgaon block in Bhagalpur district. The problem of the denizens of Rani diara further compounded with the ongoing dredging works taken out by Inland waterways authority of India (IWAI) as the water currents have started havoc for the diara people there after chunks of river banks in the diars came under the grip of erosion.
The diara inhabitants however forced the dredger ship which had been engaged in dredging works mainly to maintain the water level for navigation of inland waterways services. Due to the downfall of water level of the river along with deposit of heavy silts in the river beds, the movements of cargo ships on this parts of National waterway (NW-I) Haldia-Allahabad have disrupted.
According to sources from IWAI, for the movements of ships mainly the cargo ships the depth of the river bed should be 7-8 meters but due to the deposit of silts, at many places the river present has only 1-2 meter depth. “In order to ensure smooth operation of the traffic on NW-I, the dredging works have been initiated, mainly dredging of the small sand islands surface in the river beds along with desiltation works,” the sources said. However, the source didn’t give any specific reason for the rapid erosion in the river banks that has been started with the dredging works.
The diara people under the banner of Ganga Katawab Nirodhi Sangharsh Samity, started mobilizing against the hostile attitude of the government. At Birbanna village the members of the Samity alleged that Rani diara and other parts of the areas mostly the river banks of Ganga have been witnessing serious land erosion since 2012 but the government yet not took the matter seriously.
Pradeep Kumar, a Kahalgaon based social activist has lambasted both the state government and the IWAI for ignoring the intensity of the land erosion and subsequently violating the norms. Referring the finding of Expert Committee (Chair: Dr. M.A. Chitale) on ‘Preparation of Guidelines for Works on Desiltation from Bhimgauda (Uttarakhand) to Farakka (West Bengal) of river Ganga’, he alleged that the IWAI has overlooked the basic norms. Earlier the committed handed over its findings to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation in May 2017.
The terms of reference of the Committee included: (i) establishing the need for desilting for ecology and flow of river Ganga, and (ii) forming guidelines for works on desiltation of river Ganga. While underlining some of the key observations and recommendations of the Committee, Kumar alleged that the dredging works taken out by IWAI were the direct violations of basic norms.
“ We are not against the NW-I waterway but the government should be advanced in such aftermaths like land erosion in alarming state,” the villagers pointed out.