Experts raised concerns on the dredging activities and Brahmaputra Expressway during the two-day conclave on Brahmaputra River Basin in Guwahati that began Monday. There were concerns raised regarding the straitjacketing of the braided river. Moreover, there were questions raised regarding the harmful ecological effects of such a process.
Speaking on the tools and techniques used for dredging, Director of IWAI, Guwahati, AK Bansal said, “The dredging activities are limited to increasing the navigability for the movement of the vessels. The biggest challenge for us is to find the deepest channel suitable for navigation. For that, we have five survey vessels to undertake a computerised mapping twice a month to study the river.”
“The sands accumulated from the desiltations are good quality construction sands and can be used for the construction of the Expressway,” Bansal added.
On the other hand, Tapodhan Das from the Assam State Water Resources Dept presented the concept of Brahmaputra Expressway. He said, “We have come up with a system to contract the river to reclaim the land so that the dredged materials can be used to construct the Expressway on both sides of the river.”
So far only a preliminary survey report has been prepared which estimates that the reclaimed land will be 2307 sq km. The project also aims to restrict the width of the entire river to two kilometer.
“Due to dredging the sediment carrying capacity of the main channel of the river increases along with its velocity. This could prove to be disastrous for the people in the downstream like in Dhubri,” Professor Nayan Sharma of IIT Roorkee pointed out.
“The construction of the Expressway can only be done in phases weighing the pros and cons,” Sharma added.
The construction is estimated to cost Rs 64,564 crores and to be completed in the next 5 to 7 years.