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Recently a cruise full with foreign tourists trapped on the river bed of Ganga near Vikramshila bridge and did not go ahead towards Munger. The incident happened mainly due to low navigational level in the riverbed as the river in drying state.
Rapid declining of river Ganga’s ecological system has put the fate of much proposed 1620-km Haldia-Allahabad inland waterway-I in balance.
Some 29 year back center had announced this project and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) had fixed 2017 as deadline to complete this project. But the way recently when Pandawa cruise, a steamer with foreign tourists trapped on the river bed near the Vikramshila bridge here, raised the question of success of the proposed project.
On November 7 Pandawa cruise with over dozen foreign tourists from Calcutta was approaching Bhagalpur city when the incident had taken place. “Water level in the main channel of the river near Vikrsmshila bridge gradually decreasing and presently it hardly has one meter depth. Playing of any big water vessel on such low depth water is not only very risky but playing of such cruise cold not possible as it is below the navigation level,” pointed out one of the crew members of Pandawa cruise. Harassed foreign tourists somehow were rescued by official concerned of IWAI who rushed from Sahebganj (Jharkhand) and sent the tourist to Munger by roads. It is pertinent to note here that last year the office of deputy director of the department was shifted from Bhagalpur to Sahebganj.
An official of IWAI said that from second week of October 2017 dazing has been initiated in the main channel of the river to divert water flow towards the northern bank of river, ie, towards Barari ghat at Bhagalpur city where the harbor of IWAI is situated. But nothing was apparently possible as water level yet not raised at Barai ghat areas of the river.
To promote tourism, Pandawa cruise plays twice in a month with full of foreign tourists from October to March. During the journey from Calcutta to Munger, tourists visited all important places having historical importance and at Bhagalpur they prefers to visit half-excavated ruins of Vikramshila or Ajgaiybeenath temple at Sultanganj. Bihar School of Yoga at Munger is the final destination of the foreign tourists. Earlier on October 26, a cruise was trapped in down steam of the river when the crew members tried to pass the vessel from towards Naugachia side. “The observation kit of the vessel was trapped in arch of the bridge and after long procedure, the cruise was somehow proceeded toward Sahebganj,” said a IWAI officer.
“After the incident no steamer owner would dare to proceed towards Munger from Bhagalpur,” said local boat men at diara here. Deputy director, IWAI, Sahebganj, Prasant Kumar said that process have been going on to remove the silt by dazing and hopes to restore the inland waterways service soon. But local boatmen who are more sound in knowing the nature of Ganga said dazing of silt in some particular areas is not the solution unless water level in the river bed would not increase. IAWI sources however said the depth and the wideness of river’s bed has been maintaining by dazing. It said the depth of the river should 2.5 meter while wideness of the water level on the river bed should be at least 40 meter but near Vikramshila bridge both wideness and depth gradually decreasing, which became a major obstruction for inland waterways services here.
Prof. Vijay, a social activist and also an expert in Ganga affairs however said the situation was very alarming as river like Ganga gradually dying mainly due to construction of high dams on the river at uplands and rapid pollutions of the river.
Floods in 2016 had created havoc when river water overflown its banks due to heavy deposit of silts at its bed. But this incident of trapping of vessels are another grim reminder of the river’s ecology, said experts concerned here.