Land row stalls UP’s lone waterway

Locals protest land acquisition for Varanasi port,officials ‘working under threat’

Written by Faisal Fareed | Lucknow | Published: April 25, 2013 12:11 am

The state’s lone inland waterway project from Varanasi to Allahabad on the Ganga is stuck because of resistance to land acquisition for construction of an approach road to the proposed Varanasi port.

Last week,officials of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI),including Assistant Director Surendra Singh,had to flee in the face of angry locals when they went to demarcate land for the construction of the approach road.

“We are working under constant threat. During the past three years I have been threatened eight times. This time,the people said they would kill me and throw me in the Ganga. I cannot take it any more and have informed IWAI headquarters,” said Singh,adding that he was even getting threat calls.

For the past three years,IWAI officials have been working on the project — a 300-km-long stretch from Varanasi to Allahabad. In the first phase,the port at Varanasi was to be developed followed by the Allahabad port. Land has been acquired for the port near Vishwa Sundari bridge in Varanasi and down the Yamuna Bridge in Allahabad. At Allahabad,a boundary wall has been constructed and the approach road has also been cleared.

But the project got stuck due to unavailability of an approach road for Varanasi port. “We have acquired the land in both the locations. But an approach road is a must for Varanasi. Without the road,it is not possible to go ahead,even our Allahabad location is lying idle,” said Singh.

An IWAI team led by Singh went to Tangra crossing to demarcate land on April 18. The locals,on getting the information,gathered there,turned aggressive and chased them away,said Singh. He alleged they were not getting support from the local administration. “We never go on our own for land demarcation. We received a letter from the Special Land Acquisition Officer of Varanasi for visiting the site along with local revenue officials who were also there,” Singh said.

SDM A K Shukla,who is also SLAO,said he was not aware of the incident,although he knew about the Shipping Ministry’s project.

District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav said he was unaware of the developments. “Let me first have a word with the concerned officials. Such a thing cannot happen. All possible help will be extended for the project,” Yadav said.

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