Skc-mcm/1A/11. 00 The House met at eleven of the clock, mr. Chairman in the Chair mr. Chairman

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DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: At least, inform the House as to what is happening. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: I am informing the House that the hon. Defence Minister informed in the morning that because of this serious accident, he is going to Mumbai to visit the spot. ...(Interruptions)... As soon as he comes back, he will make a statement. ...(Interruptions)... No; no. That's enough. ...(Interruptions)... That's enough. Shri G.K. Vasan. ...(Interruptions)...

(Contd. by 1q )


MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (CONTD.): Now, Shri G.K. Vasan. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. CHANDAN MITRA: Sir, why can’t they make a statement today?...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: The moment he ...(Interruptions)... Can the Chair make a Statement? ...(Interruptions)... Let us hear from the Government; what do you have to say about this, Mr. Minister?

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: Sir, it has started sinking. It is most tragic. ...(Interruptions)...

THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA): Sir, hon. Members have raised this issue. Now, the Chair has given a direction that the Defence Minister would make a statement. So, that is binding on us. Let him come back. I would immediately convey this to the hon. Raksha Mantri and he would make a statement either today or tomorrow. Let him come back first. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: What is important is to make a statement that such a thing has happened. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: We can’t make a statement in haste. Let him come back first. I will have to find out his convenience. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. CHANDAN MITRA: Please ensure that it is done today. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: First you say, make a statement. Then you say, the facts are not correct. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: Sir, the House should be informed of it. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: The House is informed by way of the statement only. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: You must...(Interruptions)... Now, people are raising issues. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: It is good that you have...(Interruptions)... Wait for the Raksha Mantri to be back. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Dr. Raut, I have explained the position. ...(Interruptions)... It is the Defence Minister who should come here and make a statement; everybody agrees on that. And the Defence Minister has gone to the spot. The moment he heard about the accident, he went there. So, how can you do it now? He will come back and make the statement.

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: Sir, the Government could make a statement. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: What is Government then? Is there anybody other than the Defence Minister who knows more about it? What are you talking? ...(Interruptions)... No, no. That is not...(Interruptions)... How can I say that? He has already gone to Mumbai.

DR. CHANDAN MITRA: Sir, they could give a clarification...(Interruptions) the House before it adjourns for the day because tomorrow there is no House. Then, how would we know of it?

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: How can I say that? He has already gone to Mumbai. ...(Interruptions)...

DR. CHANDAN MITRA: Sir, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister could find out ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: If the Minister can give an assurance, let him give. ...(Interruptions)... I can’t. ...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: Dr. Mitra, you are a journalist; you must understand. How can I make a statement without having the facts? The Defence Minister is already in Mumbai. Let him come back and make a statement. All the facts would be there. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Now, please; let us not...(Interruptions)...

SHRI RAJEEV SHUKLA: The moment he comes back, I would let him know. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: That is enough. ...(Interruptions)... That is enough now.

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: Sir, let the hon. Minister make a statement immediately. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: No, that is not possible. How can anybody make a statement immediately? Don’t make such demands.

DR. BHARATKUMAR RAUT: Sir, I am saying that the Minister should make a statement after he comes back. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: All right. I request the Government that as soon as the Defence Minister comes back, he should be requested to come and make a statement. ...(Interruptions)...


DR. CHANDAN MITRA: Sir, it must be made before the House today if he comes back today. We want the statement today.

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Agreed; if he comes back today, it will be done today. ...(Interruptions)... That has been agreed to. That direction has been given. Now, Shri G.K. Vasan, please.

“That the Bill to provide for the declaration of the Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of the Barak River to be a national waterway and also to provide for the regulation and development of the said Stretch of that river for the purposes of shipping and navigation on the said waterway and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, be taken into consideration.”

Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, with your permission, I would like to say a few words while I move The National Waterway (Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of the Barak River) Bill, 2013, for consideration and passing by this august House.

Sir, we all know that inland waterway transport has served as a cheap and economic means of transport in India. With the advent of faster means of transport, like rail, road and air, inland water transport did not get the desired attention. Inland water transport has, however, maintained an edge over the other modes of transport in certain areas where it enjoys natural advantage.

DR. NAJMA A. HEPTULLA: Sir, a point of information; this Bill is not listed here. ...(Interruptions)... It is not listed, Sir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It is there in the Supplementary List of Business.

DR. NAJMA A. HEPTULLA: The Supplementary List of Business has come just now. ...(Interruptions)...

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Najmaji, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister stood up just now and sought the permission and consent of the House for taking up this business. I have asked for the consent of the House. It was agreed to, but it is for 20 minutes only. So, Mr. Vasan, you must be brief.

SHRI G.K. VASAN: Sir, it is a very small Bill.

Sir, today it is well-recognized all over the world for its inherent advantage of being the cheapest mode of transport for bulk haulage over long distance between places situated along the waterfront. Its energy efficiency, low pollution and potential for employment generation are universally acknowledged.



SHRI G.K. VASAN (CONTD.): The Government is seized of the need for developing inland water transport infrastructure to restore its rightful place in the overall transport scenario of the country.

Keeping in view the slow pace of the development of inland water transport in our country, several committees were constituted by the Government of India which have recommended declaration of important inland waterways as National Waterways.

The Government has already declared five waterways as National Waterways through Acts of Parliament. We have so far declared five National Waterways amounting to 4,382 kilometres. The Ministry of Shipping, through the Inland Waterways Authority of India, is engaged in the creation of infrastructure on the first three National Waterways to make them fully functional. The Authority is also gearing up to develop infrastructural facilities on the remaining other two National Waterways which have been notified as National Waterways in November, 2008.

Based on the study for a National Waterway and the potential of improvements in inland water transportation, for enhancing connectivity of the North-Eastern Region of the country, it is now being proposed to declare the ‘Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of Barak River” (121 km) in the State of Assam as National Waterway.

I would like to mention here that the development of this waterway with required inland water transport infrastructure is essential for providing improved connectivity to the Southern part of the North-East Region with the rest of the country as waterways in Bangladesh connecting Barak River with Haldia and Kolkata ports are already a part of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol.

I would like to apprise this august House that a Bill for declaration of this Waterway was passed by the Lok Sabha on 25.02.2009 and was listed in the Business of Rajya Sabha for 26.02.2009m but the Bill could not come up for discussion. And subsequently, the 14th Lok Sabha was dissolved.

Accordingly, a new Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 22.03.2012. The Bill was subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture for its examination and report. The Parliamentary Standing Committee submitted its 196th Report on 26th June, 2013 duly recommending that this Bill be passed. The hon. Committee has recommended the Bill for its passage without any amendments. I express my sincere thanks to the Standing Committee for examining the Bill and presenting the Report in a very short time.

I am sure, this august House will appreciate that this Bill for development of a waterway as a National Waterway is aimed at fulfilling the social needs of the North-Eastern Region of our country.

With these words, Sir, I commend the National Waterway (Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of Barak River) Bill, 2013 for consideration by this august House.


The question was proposed.

MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Now, Mr. Kalita. Please take two or three minutes, not more than that.

SHRI BHUBANESWAR KALITA (ASSAM): Mr. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I am thankful to the Chair for giving me an opportunity to speak on this Bill which is a very important Bill for the North-Eastern Region, particularly, for the State of Assam.

Sir, the waterways has played a very significant role in transportation in the North Eastern Region, particularly in the State of Assam, which is having two major rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Barak. The Brahmaputra Waterways has already been declared as the National Waterways. I am very happy that the hon. Minister has considered our request and the Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of the Barack River has been declared as a National Waterway by this Bill.

Sir, if we go back to the waterways in the North-Eastern part of India, particularly, the State of Assam, this has been the only transport at one point of time when the road transport was not there and it was not connected by airways also. At that time, more than 100-150 years ago, heavy machineries were taken by the waterways. The world’s second largest and the oldest refinery was built when there was no transport, when there was no road transport, no air transport. Only the waterways had played a significant role to develop that part of the country.

Sir, this Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch has been an old demand because, as you know, even in Brahmaputra river, up till now, we have only three bridges and a vast area of stretch is unconnected.

(Contd. by 1s/HK)


SHRI BHUBANESWAR KALITA (CONTD.): So, this waterways transport plays a bigger role in transportation of passengers, goods and commodities from there to other places. Sir, that was the only transport by which the distance between the rest of India and Assam and North-Eastern Region was done away with. I have only two points to raise in this Bill. One is, on the stretch from Dhubri to Guwahati, in fact, in the entire national waterways over Brahmaputra, so many boats or water transports are plying in a big number. But the safety part has been ignored. Hon. Minister knows it. There were a few accidents and the hon. Minister himself visited those accident sites. How insecure and how unsafe waterways journeys are! So, I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister that in allowing the water transport you should see the safety and security side of this water transport which is very important. Secondly, we have to develop the river ports. Without the development of river ports, waterways transport cannot be completed and improved. I am very happy that some time back an amount of Rs.40 crores was sanctioned to develop the river port in Dhubri. I want to know the position of that river port. Even after the sanctioning of the river port and even after the improvement proposal, there were accidents in which about 23 people died on the spot and up till now the bodies of some of them have not been recovered. With this, I conclude and request the hon. Minister to touch upon this subject.


SHRI D. BANDYOPADHYAY (WEST BENGAL): Sir, I fully support this Bill on principle that we are not developing our international waterways in a better way. In fact, it is the cheapest and non-polluting method of transporting our goods. There is so much of hydrocarbon problem; problem of petroleum and all that. River provides a very good option. In this connection, I would request, through you, to the Government of India that Kolkata, West Bengal and Assam should be provided with navigational facilities through Bangladesh. You have to cross Bangladesh and, therefore, you cannot just do it yourself. A huge amount of tea and all that from Assam can come to Kolkata for export. Various other merchandises from the mainland of India can come cheaply to Assam through waterways. I request, while fully supporting this Bill, that there should be a good national policy for developing waterways. In this connection, I make a specific request to connect Bengal with Assam through waterways via our friendly country Bangladesh.


SHRI V.P. SINGH BADNORE (RAJASTHAN): Sir, I stand here to speak on the National Waterway (Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of the Barak River) Bill, 2013. As the Minister has said, this Bill should have come a little before and it has come all of a sudden, even the copies of the Bill are not available.

(Contd. by 1t/KSK)

hk/gs -- KSK/ASC/12.30/1T

SHRI V.P. SINGH BADNORE (CONTD.): But basically, I want to talk about the National Waterways and it is important that the National Waterways must be developed. Like we have the road highways, the water highways are very important. This has really not happened in India because we have very few perennial rivers. Those perennial rivers do not have the water to really carry these highways through. In America, in Canada, all these National Waterways are very strong. And, it is not just the logging, it is not just the merchant shipping, it is not just the tourism, but so many things come along. And, the business along these rivers is such a strong thing. This must be developed and I must say that the Minister has moved this and it is in the right perspective that we must do it here as well. But along with that, you really need to develop the area. I would like to tell the Minister that there are also riparian rights, and if you do not talk about the riparian rights here, then it would be totally wrong. What is the riparian right? The riparian right is the right of the people living on both sides of the rivers. Their right is very important. And, this concept has not been there in the country for a very long time, and it is the riparian right which makes those people staying on both the sides of the banks and they have that right over that river and the business, the fisheries, the tourism, the small ports, the people who have been living for centuries on those rivers have a right on that water. That right must be given to those people. That is very important and the riparian right concept, which has come from America, from Canada, and all these perennial rivers are very important, must be put into this Bill. Thank you very much.


MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Now, Shri Tarun Vijay, please take only two minutes.

श्री तरुण विजय (उत्तराखंड) : सर, बाराक रिवर उत्तर पूर्वांचल की सबसे महत्वपूर्ण और सबसे ज्यादा बाढ़ग्रस्त नदी मानी जाती है। यह नदी 902 किलोमीटर चलकर बंगलादेश में मेघना नदी में जाकर मिलती है। इसके आस-पास कछार जनजाति के लोग रहते हैं, जो कि इस नदी की हर साल आने वाली बाढ़ की आपदा से हमेशा ग्रस्त रहते हैं।

उपसभापति महोदय, मैं मंत्री जी को बताना चाहूंगा कि पूरे पूर्वांचल में 95 प्रतिशत जो जमीन बाढ़ से ग्रस्त होती है, वह केवल ब्रह्मपुत्र के बेसिन में है। Ninety-five per cent of the flood-ravaged land is in Brahmputra basin. उसके बारे में यह जो बिल लाया गया है, मैं इसका स्वागत करता हूं। इसके साथ ही मैं यह बताना चाहता हूं कि बाराक रिवर भारत की सबसे अधिक पॉल्यूटेड रिवर में से है। लोगों को ध्यान नहीं होगा कि यह जो लाखीपुर-भांगा इलाका है, इस पूरे इलाके में जनजाति के लोग रहते हैं और ये बड़े ही देशभक्त हैं। इन्होंने भारत के स्वतंत्रता संग्राम में बहुत तीव्रता से हिस्सा लिया था, लेकिन उनको मिला क्या? उनको एक ऐसी नदी मिली, जो हिन्दुस्तान की सबसे अधिक प्रदूषित नदियों में से एक है। इसके लिए यहां जो बिल लाया गया है, यह उसको पॉल्यूशन से भी बचाएगा। हम कभी तिब्बत को अपना मानते थे, आज वहां पर चीन द्वारा बांध बनाए जा रहे हैं और उसके कारण जो अचानक ब्रह्मपुत्र में बाढ़ आ जाती है, उसका क्या सॉल्यूशन है, उसके बारे में यहां कोई भी जिक्र नहीं किया गया है। आप बाराक नदी का ब्रह्मपुत्र के isolation में विचार नहीं कर सकते हैं। इसका ब्रह्मपुत्र नदी के साथ बहुत गहरा संबंध रहा है। हर साल बंगाल की खाड़ी में तूफान आते हैं, तीन या चार तूफान तो हर साल आते हैं, जिनका इस नदी की बाढ़ पर बहुत गहरा असर पड़ता है। उसके कारण जो पूरे देश की जमीन है, उसका 9.5 प्रतिशत केवल बारक नदी और ब्रह्मपुत्र की बाढ़ के कारण नष्ट होता है। मैं चाहूंगा कि मंत्री महोदय उस पर भी प्रकाश डालें। मैं इस बिल का स्वागत करता हूं।


(1U/LP/GSP पर आगे)


डा. नजमा ए. हेपतुल्ला (मध्य प्रदेश) : थैंक यू उपसभापति जी। जब मंत्री जी यह बिल लेकर आए और हमारे पार्लियामेंट्री अफेयर्स मिनिस्टर ने इकोनॉमी इश्यू पर डिस्कशन से पहले इसको रखा तो मुझे लगा कि इस बिल की बहुत महत्ता है, इसकी बहुत इम्पोर्टेन्स है। हमारे देश में बहुत सी रिवर्स हैं, जिनका सही इस्तेमाल नहीं हो रहा है। मुझे याद पड़ता है कि आज से 31 साल पहले, जब मैं राज्य सभा की मैम्बर चुनी गई थी तो मैं वहाँ आगे से पाँचवीं सीट पर बैठती थी। मैंने जो स्पीच दी थी, वह मेरी मेडेन स्पीच थी, ‘Development of minor and major ports in our country – major ports on the sea and the minor ports for the rivers’. मैंने यह example भी दिया था कि यूरोप में सेन, डेन्यूब और ...तीसरा नाम मुझे याद नहीं आ रहा है..(व्यवधान).. थेम्स, तीन रिवर्स हैं। सर, इन तीन रिवर्स का कितना इस्तेमाल होता है? रशिया के अंदर जिनती रिवर्स हैं, अमरीका के अंदर जितनी रिवर्स हैं, हमारे साथी ने उसके बारे में मिसाल भी दी है और इजिप्ट के अंदर Nile is being used for waterways. सबसे बड़ी बात है कि जैसे-जैसे तेल की कीमतें बढ़ती जा रही हैं, उसके हिसाब से सड़क पर यातायात करने के लिए जब हम ट्रक से माल भेजते हैं तो वह महंगा पड़ता है, लेकिन अगर हम वही माल अपने दरिया के ज़रिये भेजेंगे, अपनी रिवर्स के ज़रिये भेजेंगे, तो हमको वह माल सस्ता पड़ेगा। उसके साथ एक और बात यह है कि जब हम अपनी रिवर्स के ऊपर माइनर पोर्ट्स या मेज़र पोर्ट्स डेवलप करेंगे तो हमारे हिंटरलैंड में जो कुछ पैदावार होती है, वह पैदावार भी सही कीमत पर, सस्ते भाव पर लोगों तक पहुंच सकेगी। आप यह बिल एक रिवर के बारे में लाए हैं, लेकिन मैं मंत्री जी से यह उम्मीद करूंगी कि हमारे देश में जितनी भी रिवर्स हैं, वे उन पर माइनर और मेज़र पोर्ट्स को डेवलप करने के लिए कार्य करेंगे।

आज मुझे बड़ी खुशी हुई, जब सडनली मैंने देखा कि 31 ईयर्स के बाद दुबारा से यह बात आ रही है। मंत्री जी, आप इस चीज़ के ऊपर ध्यान दीजिए कि आज आपने नॉर्थ-ईस्ट की एक रिवर के बारे में कहा है। यह हमारी बदकिस्मती है कि कल जब हम आज़ादी की सालगिरह मना रहे हैं, तो आप उसी समय यह बिल लाए हैं, क्योंकि इस परिप्रेक्ष्य में हमें सोचना होगा कि अगर देश का बंटवारा, जैसा हुआ है, वैसा नहीं होता, तो हम सिंध रिवर का सही तौर पर इस्तेमाल कर सकते थे, हम ब्रह्मपुत्र रिवर का सही तौर पर इस्तेमाल कर सकते थे, लेकिन कहीं न कहीं इसके अंदर जो साजिश थी, जिससे हमारी रिवर्स कटकर आधी पाकिस्तान में चली गईं और कुछ बंगलादेश में चली गईं, जिससे इन रिवर्स का जो सही इस्तेमाल होना चाहिए था, उसका फायदा हमारे देश को नहीं मिला। हमें इस चीज़ को भी ध्यान में रखना चाहिए कि हमारे बंटवारे से हमें क्या नुक़सान हुआ है। आपका बहुत-बहुत धन्यवाद कि आपने मुझे दो मिनट बोलने का अवसर दिया।


MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Najma ji. Now, Mr. Minister, please.

THE MINISTER OF SHIPPING (SHRI G.K. VASAN): Hon. Deputy Chairman, Sir, I am thankful to the Members for participating in this very short discussion and also for giving very valuable suggestions on the National Waterway (Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River) Bill, 2013.

Sir, the new national waterway will connect Barak River with Haldia and Kolkata through the Indo-Bangladesh inland water transit and trade protocol route. Sir, waterway is proposed to be developed in two phases at an estimated cost of Rs. 123 crore over a period of five years. This has also got the potential for transportation of 12.45 lakh tonnes of cargo in the first year of its full operation, that is, 2018-10 carrying commodities like tea, coffee, paper and paper products, fly ash, foodgrains, bamboo, bamboo chicks, iron and steel, coal, wood and timber, edible oil, fertilizers etc. The development of this new national waterway will primarily cater to the transportation requirements of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts of Assam, in addition to adjoining States of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

(Contd. by YSR-1W)

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