River Ganga has got another gift in the holy city of Varanasi from the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh Government in the form of CNG-run boats. Boats operating in the River Ganga of Kashi will neither release toxic smoke nor will make a loud noise anymore. As a part of the pilot project, a CNG station is being built at Khirkiya Ghat. In the first phase, about 51 boats will have CNG based engines.
It is for the first time in the world where CNG will run boats on such a large scale. Varanasi Commissioner Deepak Agarwal stated, “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath aims to make River Ganga pollution-free, in this regard, under Corporate Social Responsibility Project, GAIL India has taken the responsibility to make River Ganga free of pollution.”
From a budget of over 34 crores, as many as 1700 small and big boats will have CNG engines. Each small boat will cost around 60 to 70 thousand, while a big boat will cost over 2 lakhs. A small amount will also be taken from the boatmen. Diesel engine will be withdrawn from the boats and instead, CNG based engine will be fitted on them.
The Municipal Corporation is implementing strict rules for the boatmen, while granting the license, the administration will ensure that there is a radium marking on the boat so that it can appear even under low light and does not cause an accident. Radium will be installed in such a place that if the radium strip is drowned underwater, it will indicate that more people are riding on the boat. All the safety equipment including life jackets will be kept on the boat. Along with this, the COVID protocol will also have to be followed. Apart from these, the complete description will also be written on the identity card of the candidates.
GAIL India Deputy General Manager Gauri Shankar Mishra said, “In the first phase, 51 boats will be fitted with CNG engines at a cost of about one crore. For which Datar stations are being built on the ghat itself. The dispenser has also been installed on the jetty, which will be operational in about 15 days.
Expressing his happiness when the trial was taken by putting a CNG kit in the boat running from the engine, sailor Vikas stated, “This is an amazing engine. The boat is covering a sufficient distance in less gas. With this, expenses will be reduced, which will increase the earnings of us. Due to the lack of smoke and noise, these CNG boats will be liked by the tourists, earlier they (tourists) used to complain about pollution.”
Former director of Kashi Hindu University, Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, and Coordinator of Mahamana Malaviya Ganga Research Center, Kavita Shah said, “The poisonous smoke of carbon monoxide, sulfur, particulate matter, heavy metal, etc. is released when driving a boat with a diesel engine, this causes a lot of damage to people and the surrounding environment. But this is not the case with CNG, and as the density of CNG is less than air, it does not stay in the external environment, therefore, CNG is less toxic.
The vibrations caused by the loud sound of the diesel engine affect humans as well as aquatic animals, and also the eco-system is damaged, as well as the historical heritages situated along the banks of the ghat also get spoiled. In comparison to diesel, CNG is less flammable, so it is likely to reduce the risk of disasters from boats.
Earlier, tourists say they used to take a boat ride risking their health, as both the loud sound of the diesel engine and the black smoke bothers them. But now the tourists, as well as people living on the banks of the ghat, are happy that the ghats will be pollution free.