GUWAHATI, Oct 2 - The State Government is yet to get any reply from the Union Government on the survey report it had sent to it on dredging the Brahmaputra bed and building the proposed express highways on both its banks using the excavated silt. �There is no communication from the Union Water Resources Ministry in this regard,� said highly placed sources in the State�s Water Resources Department (WRD).
The dredging carried out by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is in no way connected with the proposed dredging works for deepening the Brahmaputra channel to enhance its carrying capacity. The IWAI efforts are confined only to keep the river channel navigable, whereas the dredging, �corrective dredging� to be precise, proposed by the Government is envisioned to enhance the carrying capacity of the Brahmaputra channel, sources said.
The process of floating global tender for procuring a dredger to undertake corrective dredging of the Brahmaputra channel and some of its tributaries is still in its preliminary stage, as, the State�s Finance Department is yet to okay the proposal. The proposal was initially submitted by the WRD to State�s Revenue Department and the latter, in its turn, advised the WRD to place it before the Finance Department.
Earlier, national level tenders were floated on two occasions in this regard. But there was no bidder. This compelled the WRD to opt for the global tender. An amount of Rs 18 crore has so far been earmarked for procuring the dredger, sources said.
The present stand of the WRD is that it would undertake corrective dredging initially in the tributaries, to clear the high amount of silt deposits on their beds. And, if the situation so demands, such operations would also be carried out on the Brahmaputra bed to check bank erosion, sources said.
As per the statement made by WRD Minister Keshab Mahanta on the floor of the State Assembly on September 4, 2017, two dredgers were procured for carrying out dredging on the bed of the Brahmaputra to make the National Waterway �II functional by ensuring the plying of vessels from Sadiya to Dhubri. He also informed the House that day that for the express highway project, a survey in 16 sections of the Brahmaputra was carried out and the detailed project report (DPR) would be prepared soon.
On September 26, this year, State�s WRD Minister told Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Debabrata Saikia that the task of carrying out dredging on the Brahmaputra was assigned to IWAI and there was no information from this Union Government agency on the progress of this work till September 26, 2018.
Again, on November 7, 2017, the Water and Power Consultancy Service Ltd (WAPCOS) of the Union Government was asked to prepare a master plan for development of the Brahmaputra. The WAPCOS has sent its techno-commercial proposal on the issue to the Central Water Commission (CWC) and it is now awaiting the Union Government�s green signal in this respect, the Minister said.
It needs mention here that Union Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had made an announcement during the Namami Brahmaputra festival on April 4, 2017 that the Brahmaputra bed would be excavated, between Sadiya in Assam and Chittagong in Bangladesh, to make it navigable all through. Two express highways would also be built along both its banks, at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore, using the excavated silt.