Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi (file photo).PIB

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre is set to develop river Ganga both as a major water corridor and a tourism destination.

Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari stated that the government has proposed to utilize river Ganga for the development of 260km Allahabad-Haldia water corridor. When realized, the waterway will facilitate transportation from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Hooghly in West Bengal, the minister said.

Gadkari was participating in "Ganga Manthan", the national dialogue on Ganga river in Delhi on Monday.

Gadkari said that it has been proposed to conduct dredging to provide a width of 45 metres and a depth of five metres to enable navigation of small ships between Varanasi and Hooghly on river Ganga in the first stage of its development.

The minister said barrages are proposed to be constructed at every 100km on the river. Gadkari said his ministry has sent a proposal in this regard to the World Bank for development of Allahabad-Haldia corridor.

The river will be transformed into an attractive tourism destination, where tourists from both India and abroad will visit and enjoy several attractive sports, all along the banks from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, said Union Tourism and Culture Minister Shripada Yasso Naik, who also participated in the programme.

Naik also gave an overview of the plans for the development of river Ganga as major tourism destination. He also said the Union Tourism Ministry is exploring the possibilities of introducing Shikara rides on Ganga, similar to the pattern of Kashmir where boating is a major attraction for tourists.

India is committed to the continuous and uninterrupted flow of the river from Gangotri to Ganga Sagar, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti said. She said the government will work with full sincerity on the outcome of this dialogue.

"We have had series of discussions with various stakeholders on the issue and will soon arrive on some positive outcome," a statement from the government quoted her.

The minister said that she has noticed that people from every section of the society, irrespective of their faith, are committed to this cause. There won't be any shortage of funds for Ganga Rejuvenation Progamme, she iterated.

Modi, while campaigning during the elections, had vowed to cleanse the river and develop it into a major tourist destination.

The day-long dialogue was organized by the National Mission for Clean Ganga, attended by a large number of delegates from different parts of the country and abroad.

The dialogue had four different sessions on "Ganga & Sanskriti" for spiritual leaders, "Public Participation for Ganga" for public representatives and administrators, "Aviral & Nirmal Ganga" for NGOs and environmentalists, and "Comprehensive and Sustainable Solutions" for academicians and technocrats.