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Allahabad-Varanasi Ganga waterway to start by 2019 Kumbh: Gadkari

June 12, 2017 19:30 IST

The project worth about Rs 5,000 crore is underway with assistance from the World Bank.

Come 2019 Kumbh, pilgrims will be able to use Ganga waterway to reach Allahabad from Varanasi, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

The Kumbh mela, the world's largest religious gathering held on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the confluence of the three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, is likely to witness 15 crore pilgrims in 2019.

"We will convert Allahabad to Varanasi stretch on the Ganga into waterways and make it navigable so that people visiting 2019 Kumbha mela could travel between Varanasi and Allahabad easily," Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said in New Delhi.

Gadkari, who was jointly addressing the media with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, said the fair may see about 15 crore pilgrims in 2019 Kumbh and it would be ensured that their travel is hassle free.

"The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which is implementing the waterways project will purchase steamers under special schemes to transport people during the upcoming fair. Private parties will also be encouraged to ply their vessels," he said.

The minister said massive work is already underway on 1,680 km stretch between Varanasi to Haldia by IWAI and dredging is being done.

"We are building multi-modal transport hubs at three places on this 1,680 km stretch at Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj. We are also building 40 river ports besides operationalising nine ferry services," he said.

The project worth about Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) is underway with assistance from the World Bank.

Gadkari said this waterway will be a "growth engine" for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal and the work on Varanasi-Haldia stretch will be completed by December next year.

Besides, road infrastructure will also be augmented for the Kumbha mela in the state, the Union minister said.

UP Chief Minister Adityanath said Maha Kumbh is held in Allahabad every 12th year and Ardha Kumbha on every 6th year which witnessed 10-12 crore pilgrims.

"We have decided to augment this internal road infrastructure of 76 km for Kumbh mela before 2019. Detailed project report will be completed within six months," Adityanath said.

He said work will also start on a Rs 2,460 crore (Rs 24.6 billion) project to construct a six-lane bridge on Ganga at Allahabad.

Photograph: Reuters

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