Remove Farakka barrage to manage silt in Ganga: Nitish

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday has urged the central government to remove the Farakka barrage in West Bengal and make a countrywide policy on silt management for letting river Ganga to flow freely.

"Siltation is destroying Ganga's ecology and health. It's due to heavy deposits of silt on the riverbed that stream of the river is being badly affected," Kumar said at a conference on 'Incessant Ganga' which was organised to address the siltation issue.

"The cleanliness of river Ganga is not possible without its incessant flow, so people have to come forward to raise the issue as the stream of the river is becoming weaker in Bihar. It's the cascading effect of Farakka barrage that incidents of soil erosion have rose manifold which can be gauged by the fact that Rs 1,058 crore has been spent on soil erosion management in the last 5 years," Kumar said.

"We are here not to advocate for dismantling the Farakka barrage, rather we have gathered here to find out the ways to make Ganga incessant by making it completely silt free. We don't believe in keeping the silt away as our objective is to give way to silt and that can be done only if river Ganga is 'allowed' to flow freely," the Chief Minister said.

Taking a jibe at Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari's ambitious National Waterway plan, Kumar suggested Gadkari for carrying out a feasibility study on the usage of Ganga for inland waterways as regular de-silting of the river would result in the consumption of more funds. "It's not a political agenda for me neither of the Bihar government. The issue is of national importance and we are ready to support it as a volunteer," Kumar added.

Experts, present on the occasion, criticised the Narendra Modi government for the excessive exploitation of Ganga and not understanding the river's hydrology. Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, eminent environmentalist Professor GD Agrawal, Subba Rao and water activist Rajendra Singh were also present at the event.

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