<br><EM>-&nbsp;Dr.&nbsp; A.B. Thapa</EM>

May 29, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 04 No.-23 May 27 -2011 (Jestha 13,2068)
China is now the second richest country in the world with annual GDP of about six trillion US dollars equivalent.  Many western  economists  have already started  to   predict  that in not distant future the Chinese economy leapfrogging  at an average rate of over ten percent  per annum  could  even  overtake the USA. It is now speculated  that the  mounting debt ridden US Dollar,  which  was  established as the world currency  in place of the British Pound,   might  be replaced by the Chinese currency. 
At present  China is  embarked on new plans to accelerate further economic developments  by pushing back the  frontiers of  science and technology. In one of the recent BBC programmes  on China  it was  said that the China has even overtaken   the USA in publication of scientific papers.  The  ultimate aim of such vigorous Chinese science and technology efforts are sure to have been directed to country’s  progress and prosperity  through development based on full  utilization   of its  natural resources.    In this context the full scale exploitation of Tibet’s  vast still untapped natural resources could have hardly been out of the sight of  China’s  highly skilled planners who are now going around the whole world in quest for  opportunity to acquire the right  to  tap  natural resources.

Tibet’s  Accessibility
Exploitation  of Tibet’s  vast natural resources  would provide an excellent opportunity for China’s rapid development but such task at locations in Tibet far away from country’s  developed eastern coastal  areas would not be easy .   Fortunately  the  Tibet  could  be more readily accessible  from the  southern side,  and  such convenience in accessibility would  allow for the  vast  natural resources  of Tibet to  be exploited  with ease  in a way to benefit China and also the countries in Indian sub-continent.   In  this  context  the proposed Kosi  Navigation Canal  could be expected  to play an  important role in establishing  Nepal India China tripartite link for the purpose of  exploitation of Tibet’s  vast natural resources.

Kosi Canal Waterway

Nepal  and  India   agreed in  1997 to conduct a detailed  feasibility study for developing a navigable canal  waterway  extending   from Chatra  in Nepal  to Kursella in Bihar, the meeting point of the Kosi River with the Ganges. The  Kosi  navigation  canal  will  be  linked   to  the  National  Waterway  No.1  of  India. The  stretch of the  waterway  between Allahabad  and  Haldia  has  been  declared  the  National  Waterway  No. 1  of   India.  The total length of this waterway is 1580 km.  The  National  Waterway  No.1   of   India   includes  the  Hoogly, Bhagirathi and  the  lower  and  middle  reaches   of  the  Ganges.  This   waterway   can be   broadly divided into   three sections.  They  are   the  Haldia-Farakka,  Farakka-Patna,  and  Patna-Allahabad   sections, and  the  length  of  each  of  these  sections   is    500 km,  480 km,  and  600 km  respectively 

On par with European Waterways

The use of the Kosi canal for navigation instead of the natural river course would allow the development of this very important waterway on par with the major waterways that exist in Europe and America. Some of the overwhelming advantages of the canal waterway linking Chatra with Kursella where Kosi merges with the Ganges are described hereinafter.  
The distance would be short. The navigation canal would follow the shortest route to the Ganges river. The withdrawal of water from the river for irrigation or for other purposes would have to be significantly restricted, to maintain adequate depths if the natural river channel is to be used for navigation. In case of the navigation canal, the water required to maintain adequate depth would be very small. l The entry point of the Kosi navigation canal flowing into the Ganges is near the extreme tail end of this river and thus the Ganges river channel is sure to be quite deep at this stretch, allowing the operation of relatively large river vessels. Very  big  river vessels  would  be  able to  reach  Chatra  in  Nepal  if the  Kosi canal waterway  is  also  planned  for operating  vessels similar  in  capacity  to  those  plying  on the lowermost  reach  of  the  Ganges.

Cheapest Mode of Transport

The coefficient of friction on water is very small. One horsepower can pull 4,000 kg on water while on road and rail it can move only 150 kg and 500 kg respectively. In European and American countries, inland water transport has established itself as the cheapest mode of transportation.  In USA, where various modes of transportation freely competing with one another are equally developed, inland water transport has been found to be 5 times cheaper than railway transportation and 21 times cheaper than road transportation.

USA had about 25,000 miles of internal commercial navigable channels in 1968, of which 15,000 miles provided operating depths of nine feet or more. The nine-foot draft is considered standard for barge and towing industry operations in the USA. About 490 million tons of freight was carried in 1968 by all kinds of river ships in USA.

According  to  a study  conducted  on behalf  of the  German  State Railway,  to  move  one  ton of   goods in Germany by one kilometer,  it  costs  14  pfenings by  rail and  29  pfenings  by  road, but  just  4 pfenings  by  inland  waterway. It  shows  that  inland  water  transportation  is  the  cheapest  by  comparison  with  other  modes  of  transportation.

Safety in Transit

Apart from being a very cheap mode of transportation, inland water transportation is the safest and the most reliable form of transportation with very little risks of pilferage, loss and damage of goods  particularly in transit.    Such a type of transportation is very convenient for moving goods and equipments that are very big and heavy. There are other inherent advantages of inland water transportation. Some of them are listed below:
( i)  Ability  to  open  market  for  otherwise  non-marketable  commodities
(ii)  Stimulates industrial production.
(iii) Ability  to  attract  production  facilities  to  water-oriented  locations in  the  interiors  and  thereby  aid  in  their  dispersal  from  the  coastal  congested  areas.
(iv) Ability to  fit  services  into  production  line  processes  for  movement of raw  materials.

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