A recent study conducted by the South Asia Watch on Trade Economics and Environment (Sawtee) has recommended undertaking comprehensive feasibility study of the rivers to assess navigability in the Koshi and Gandaki basins.
“The government should identify sites for possibility of upgrading existing traditional boats, keeping in mind its social and ecological impact,” said Dikshya Singh, one of the researchers.
The study suggested identifying complementary infrastructure such as connecting roads to facilitate multi-model transport services, and also to provide incentives to the private sector so as to increase its participation.
However, experts expressed reservations in implementing the navigation system in Koshi and Gandaki basins as the rivers lack sufficient water in the dry season and due to various irrigation projects.
“We don’t have technical capacity required for manipulation engineering in major rivers which is needed to maintain certain depth required for the boats’ movement,” said Ajay Dixit, executive director at ISET-Nepal.
Former president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association Rajan Sharma said that though inland waterways were costly and complex, they could prove useful during the times like strikes and blockade when the time and cost of transportation was less important.
He urged the government to hold effective talks with India to facilitate the private sector with smooth movement of goods from Kolkata or Bishakhapattanam ports to Nepal-India border.
Former secretary of Ministry of Water Resources Dr. DwarikaNathDhungel said that detailed feasibility study at three major river basins was necessary to find out the possibility of water navigation.
Experts said that the country should develop waterways at least to break the landlocked psychology.
The suggested developing the rivers for tourism and recreational purposes.
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