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State Govt submits study report to Centre

By R DUTTA CHOUDHURY
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GUWAHATI, Jan 21 - The Assam Government has submitted a preliminary study report on construction of express highways on both sides of the river Brahmaputra to the Centre, while, administrative approval has been given for procurement of one dredger for digging up of the beds of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra in phased manner.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the ambitious plan of the Government to construct express highways on both sides of the river Brahmaputra all throughout its course in Assam has been discussed at various levels and an initial feasibility study has been conducted by a team of experts including engineers drawn from various departments of the Government. An amount of more than Rs 2 crore was spent on the study. The study report suggested that in some places, the width of the Brahmaputra would have to be reduced and flyovers would have to be constructed in places where the tributaries join the mighty river.

Sources said that construction of such highways would be massive exercise as it would also involve controlling the channel and flow of Brahmaputra river and the construction of the highways would not only improve the communication network in Assam in a big way but would also check erosion by the river. By construction of the highways, it would also be possible to reclaim land to be used for various other purposes like development of tourism, setting up of industries etc.

However, sources admitted that it would be possible to go ahead with the mega project only if the Central Government comes forward to implement it. The initial study report has been submitted to the Centre so that a competent agency can be engaged to prepare the detailed project report to start the initial works. Sources also admitted that implementation of a project of such magnitude would definitely take some time and it is already decided that the sand to be extracted from dredging of the river bed of the Brahmaputra would be used for the construction of the highways.

At present, only a project for dredging a part of the Brahmaputra for improving navigation facilities will be started and in the initial stage, the portion between Pandu to Dhubri would be taken up. Improvement of navigation facilities along the river will be of great help to the State as the cost of transportation of various items including essential items will come down drastically, sources pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Government of Assam has given administrative approval for buying a dredger at the cost of Rs 18 crore including maintenance cost. The dredger will be used for increasing the water carrying capacity of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra and initially it would be used in the most vulnerable locations. If the dredging of the tributaries become successful, the Government is planning to procure more dredgers in the days to come. �Apart from dredging the beds of the tributaries, efforts will also be made to correct the courses of the rivers to reduce the problems of flood and erosion,� sources added.

On the other hand, different states have shown interest in buying river bed sand from Assam. Sources said that some states, particularly south Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala are facing severe shortage of sand and they are forced to import from other countries. Some such states have shown interest in procuring sand from Assam and a team from Chennai already visited upper Assam to examine the sand quality. Though it is planned that sand extracted from the bed of the Brahmaputra during the dredging operation would be used for construction of the express highways on both sides of the river, sand deposition is a continuous process and the State Government is examining the feasibility to sell it to other states to earn money.

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State Govt submits study report to Centre

GUWAHATI, Jan 21 - The Assam Government has submitted a preliminary study report on construction of express highways on both sides of the river Brahmaputra to the Centre, while, administrative approval has been given for procurement of one dredger for digging up of the beds of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra in phased manner.

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the ambitious plan of the Government to construct express highways on both sides of the river Brahmaputra all throughout its course in Assam has been discussed at various levels and an initial feasibility study has been conducted by a team of experts including engineers drawn from various departments of the Government. An amount of more than Rs 2 crore was spent on the study. The study report suggested that in some places, the width of the Brahmaputra would have to be reduced and flyovers would have to be constructed in places where the tributaries join the mighty river.

Sources said that construction of such highways would be massive exercise as it would also involve controlling the channel and flow of Brahmaputra river and the construction of the highways would not only improve the communication network in Assam in a big way but would also check erosion by the river. By construction of the highways, it would also be possible to reclaim land to be used for various other purposes like development of tourism, setting up of industries etc.

However, sources admitted that it would be possible to go ahead with the mega project only if the Central Government comes forward to implement it. The initial study report has been submitted to the Centre so that a competent agency can be engaged to prepare the detailed project report to start the initial works. Sources also admitted that implementation of a project of such magnitude would definitely take some time and it is already decided that the sand to be extracted from dredging of the river bed of the Brahmaputra would be used for the construction of the highways.

At present, only a project for dredging a part of the Brahmaputra for improving navigation facilities will be started and in the initial stage, the portion between Pandu to Dhubri would be taken up. Improvement of navigation facilities along the river will be of great help to the State as the cost of transportation of various items including essential items will come down drastically, sources pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Government of Assam has given administrative approval for buying a dredger at the cost of Rs 18 crore including maintenance cost. The dredger will be used for increasing the water carrying capacity of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra and initially it would be used in the most vulnerable locations. If the dredging of the tributaries become successful, the Government is planning to procure more dredgers in the days to come. �Apart from dredging the beds of the tributaries, efforts will also be made to correct the courses of the rivers to reduce the problems of flood and erosion,� sources added.

On the other hand, different states have shown interest in buying river bed sand from Assam. Sources said that some states, particularly south Indian states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala are facing severe shortage of sand and they are forced to import from other countries. Some such states have shown interest in procuring sand from Assam and a team from Chennai already visited upper Assam to examine the sand quality. Though it is planned that sand extracted from the bed of the Brahmaputra during the dredging operation would be used for construction of the express highways on both sides of the river, sand deposition is a continuous process and the State Government is examining the feasibility to sell it to other states to earn money.