R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - The experts of the World Bank have admitted that the Brahmaputra is the most difficult river in the world to deal with, said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who had meetings with the experts of the Bank on the proposed mega plan to deal with the problems of flood and erosion in the State.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Sonowal pointed out that the World Bank experts have dealt with flood and erosion problems in different parts of the world and they have openly admitted that dealing with the Brahmaputra would pose greater challenges than any other river.
He, however, expressed the hope that with the implementation of short- and long-term plans, it would be possible to transform the river into a blessing for the people of Assam.
Sonowal hoped that the proposed World Bank-sponsored mega project would be cleared soon so that the work on dealing with the Brahmaputra and its tributaries can be taken up to deal with the problems of flood and erosion.
The mega project will also help in protecting the river island Majuli. The project will include a detailed study on the entire course of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, which is necessary for implementation of a project of such magnitude, he said.
The Chief Minister pointed out that if China can tame the Huang He river from a curse to a blessing, there is no reason why the Brahmaputra cannot be turned into a blessing for the people in the long run. He said that the government is also planning to send a team of experts along with a team of the World Bank to China to study the steps taken to deal with the Huang He. Replying to a question on whether China would allow visit by such a team, he hoped that with the involvement of the World Bank, it should not be difficult to get permission for it.
Sonowal pointed out that the bed of the Brahmaputra has come up in some places and according to an estimate, there are around 2,500 chars on the river. He said the river has been turned into several channels in some areas and that is why the government is keen on dredging of the river to clear the main channel. He said he already had talks with the officials of the Dredging Corporation of India in this regard.
Sonowal revealed that he already had talks with the Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, on the issue of extensive use of the waterways. He pointed out that use of the waterways would reduce the transportation cost of goods and keep the main channel of the Brahmaputra free. He expressed the hope that with the improvement of relations with Bangladesh, the government of the neighbouring country would allow ships carrying goods to the North East to pass through that country.