Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi likes to inaugurate projects and at times even before they are fully completed. The inauguration of the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) just before the Gujarat assembly elections in 2017 is one such case. The canal network of the SSP is yet to be completed.
Another project which was inaugurated by Mr. Modi just before the Gujarat elections in 2017 was the Ghogha Dahej RO-RO ferry service. The inauguration of the ferry service was done with great fanfare and the project called the dream project and an invaluable gift to India:
However, startling facts regarding the ferry service have been reported by one of the leading newspapers of Gujarat, Saurashtra Samachar dated 14-March-18. I translate important excerpts from the Gujarati news paper for wider readership here:
“OBSTACLE: There is a requirement of hundred meters channel for the ferry as against which only fifty meters has been constructed.
"Ghogha –Dahej ferry service in danger due to problems in dredging.
"The sand excavated by dredging is being dumped just nearby.
"The problem of silting in Ghogha and Dahej has become dangerous.
"Saurashtra Samachar, Ground Report:
|Ro-Ro ferry, Photo: Financial Express|
"Bhavnagar: To start Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project Ghogha- Dahej RO-RO ferry in April, the joint secretary of Shipping Ministry has taken to task the officers of GMB (Gujarat Maritime Board) and has given an ultimatum to complete all the works by 31st of March. However the reality is absolutely the opposite.
"In order to navigate the RO-RO ship, a five meter deep and hundred meters wide navigation channel is required. By 13th of March, out of the hundred meters channel, only fifty meters of channel has been completed. Besides, as per the agreement contract, the sand excavated by dredging which had to be dumped five kilometers inside the sea, has been dumped just nearby. Because of this, the navigation channel is getting more dangerous. Four meters high heaps of sand and hard creta have been created just close to the water due to which the natural flow of water has been obstructed. And experts are voicing fear that in summer sea currents more severe than the ordinary will be experienced in this channel. Due to financial problems between the GMB and the contractor, the work had become slow and its direct impact is being seen on the project.
"Ro-Ro ferry as decided is of the size of 23 meters, and as per the rules, the width of the channel should be four times more than the ferry but that has not happened.
"Violation of Environmental Clearance too has taken place:
"Concerned ministries of the Central Government had given necessary permissions for dredging for the Ghogha-Dahej, Ro-Ro Ferry service and some conditions were imposed. The environmental clearance given was for the dredging of four million cubic meters. Till date dredging of 3.70 million cubic meter has been completed and yet out of a hundred meters of channel, only fifty meters has been completed. Dredging work on both sides, at Ghogha and Dahej remains to be completed. Under such circumstances there is clearly a possibility of the violation of environmental clearance. Besides this, once the channel is completed, survey will have to be carried out by National Agency and then navigation chart is to be prepared, and accordingly the work of installing boya remains to be done.”
As I write this, I am reminded of the serious concerns raised by experts about the rush to commission a NTPC project in Uttar Pradesh in which forty two workers died due to a blast.