PATNA: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Saturday demanded removal of Farakka barrage on river Ganga saying, “The disadvantages of the barrage appear to be higher than its benefits.”Raising the issue of Bihar’s share in Ganges waters at the 11th Inter State Council meeting held in New Delhi, Nitish also sought the Centre’s intervention to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga River has continuous supply of water even during lean season. The meeting was chaired by PM Narendra Modi and attended by CMs of different states and union ministers.

“About 16% of the catchment area of river Ganga is in Bihar, but in the lean season 3/4th of the total water flowing in Ganga comes from rivers of Bihar. Estimated 400 cusecs of water flow is received at the (Uttar Pradesh) border of Bihar in river Ganga. However, at Farakka barrage, 1500 cusecs of water flow is to be ensured, which is achieved mainly through the water contributed by the rivers of Bihar. Indeed, during lean season not even 400 cusecs of water flow is available at the border of Bihar. In this regard, Centre’s intervention is required to ensure uninterrupted flow of water from the states of upper co-basin, so that the entire length of Ganga River in Bihar has continuous supply of water even during lean season,” Nitish said while presenting Bihar’s views at the meeting.

CM also told the meeting that responsibility to ensure the required water availability at Farakka Barrage has been put solely on Bihar. “Bihar’s fundamental right to use the water of Ganga and its tributaries in Bihar is also being violated. Currently the upper states use more than their share of the Ganges waters, whereas objections are raised even on little use of water of Ganga by Bihar for its development needs,” he said.

Nitish also demanded formulation of an effective National Silt Management Policy saying, “formulation of such body at the national level is essential for silt management as well as for ensuring uninterrupted flow of water not only in Ganga but in all the other rivers.”

Emphasising for re-evaluation of the utility of Farakka Barrage, Nitish said, “Looking from a practical point of view, the disadvantages of the Barrage appear to be higher than its benefits. Therefore, it will be appropriate that the Centre seriously considers the removal of Farakka Barrage.”

Bihar CM also pitched for a complete ban on sale and consumption of liquor across the country and reiterated his demand for special category status to Bihar and other backward states.