The TrickyScribe: Raising questions over the feasibility of Farakka barrage that has often been criticized for repetitive floods in Bihar due to excessive siltation in river Ganga exacting a huge toll on Bihari life and property, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Thursday said the utility of the barrage must be revaluated.
Criticism of Farakka barrage for causing excessive siltation in the Ganga stays accurate. The dam was considered a doomed project even before its execution was started. The only difference remains that in the 1960s, the media vilified the-then West Bengal chief engineer Kapil Bhattacharya, for saying exactly what CM Nitish would echo five decades later.
Course of time
Arthur Cotton, a British irrigation engineer, suggested in 1853 that building a barrage across the Ganges at Farakka would flush river Hooghly free of silt and keep the Kolkata port free. Soon after Independence, West Bengal government began exploring the idea and the Center took over its planning in 1949.
READ THE TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH ON SHARING OF THE GANGA/GANGES WATERS AT FARAKKA HERE
Expectations from Farakka Barrage
The barrage as proposed by Cotton was expected to divert water away from Padma – as river Ganga is known in Bangladesh – and into river Hooghly, thereby flushing it free of silt.
Bhattacharya, however, stood strongly against the proposal. He believed that the reason behind the siltation of Hooghly was not sedimentation carried over hundreds of kilometers from the Himalayas by the Ganga. Two dams on the Damodar and Rupnarayan rivers, western tributaries of the Hooghly, were held responsible for the same by Bhattacharya.
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In his report titled ‘Silting of Calcutta Port’, Bhattacharya wrote in 1961, the two dams were built without “taking into consideration flood-tides and tide-borne silts” and had hence got choked. Bhattacharya had also indicated that the dam was designed to discharge too little water at times of floods, which would then lead to devastating floods upstream in Malda and Murshidabad in West Bengal and in several districts of Bihar through which the Ganga flows. All the predictions made by Bhattacharya have come true since!
Bihar CM bats for National Silt Policy
CM Nitish demanded on Thursday that a comprehensive National Silt Policy be formed so that the menace of siltation is restricted.
PU admin rebuked for incompetence
Rebuking Patna University (PU) administration for non-performance the Bihar CM on Thursday expressed his anguish over the delay in the establishment of Dolphin Research Centre in the university and said being allotted proper funds notwithstanding it is startling to know that the DRC is yet to be established in the PU.
Dolphin Research Centre likely to be shifted to Bhagalpur
CM Nitish added that the center will be shifted to Bhagalpur in case the PU administration fails in earmarking land and starting the project within a timeframe of 60 days. He was addressing the inaugural function of a 15-day workshop organized by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in Patna, Bihar.