KARWAR: Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari is being persuaded to introduce inland waterways in Sharavathi and Kali rivers to connect a number of villages in Uttara Kannada district. Gadkari’s ministerial colleague and local MP Anantkumar Hegde is pursuing the matter with the former, so that a plan takes shape before the upcoming general elections.
Gadkari held a meeting with Hegde recently, in which the latter requested him to enable inland waterways into the main rivers flowing through the district. This will facilitate connectivity to many villages, particularly in Joida taluk. Gadkari is said to have responded positively to Hegde’s request.
As the district, which has a number of rivers and reservoirs, has about 80 per cent forest area, it is tough to provide road connectivity to all villages. Waterways are more feasible than other modes of transport to connect villages located near rivers and reservoirs, according to experts.
A year ago, the Tractebel Engineering Private Limited prepared a detailed project report (DPR) on inland waterways and submitted it to the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). In its report, the firm recommended introduction of inland waterways of 3,000 km in 11 rivers in the state.
The waterways in Sharavathi and Kali rivers are mentioned in the report, and a route of 54 km of Kali and 29 km of Sharavathi are proposed. If the new transport system is introduced in these two rivers, many towns and villages will get small ports to facilitate shipping activities.
Such an initiative would also help avoid felling of trees in forests for laying of roads, and thus, preserve the rich biodiversity of the Western Ghats.