As India's Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who holds the road transport and highways, and shipping, water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation portfolios laid the foundation stone for a 300 km national waterway from Balmiki Nagar in Bagaha to the confluence of river Gandak and Ganga in Hajipur, it is coming closer to see Nepal linking to India's national water ways.
Development of National Waterway -37 (river Gandak) from its confluence with river Ganga at Hajipur to Triveni Ghat (Bhaisalotan Barrage, Valmikinagar) will be first of its kind to link Nepal to Bay of Bengal through Ganga water ways.
India is building this 300-km stretch of river Gandak at a cost of Rs 12.91crore. River conservancy measures and fairway development works are in progress. A floating terminal is being built at Kailashnagar near Bagaha. Additional floating pontoon facility is proposed at Dumaria Ghat.
The Hindustan Times Reports that the first phase of the waterway project is scheduled to be completed by 2020. With its completion, it will be possible for vessels up to 1,000 tonnes to move on river Gandak. “There is a potential to transport 11.60 million tonnes of agricultural produce, construction material and other items over Ganga and Gandak in the next five years. Roll-on, roll-off services will save travel time. This will also open up river connectivity with Nepal and boost tourism and pilgrimage in these areas,” said Minister Gadkari.
Madahv Belbase, Joint secretary of Water and Energy Commission, who has been taking part in the bilaterial meeting of river navigation, has already signed MoU with his Indian counterpart to explore the possible water ways.
After Nepal-India understanding to develop the waterways, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply has already set up a team under joint secretary Madhu Marashini to look the issues. At a time when India has pushed the agenda as a priority, the time has come for Nepal to take efforts.