Varanasi to run 500 CNG-propelled boats in Ganga by Dev Deepawali

The holy city of Varanasi will soon see a smart mode of transport for the river Ganga. The Government of Uttar Pradesh, as a part of the Smart City Project, would be converting diesel engine boats into CNG-propelled boats by Dev Deepawali this year. The move will not only curb the noise and air pollution caused by diesel boats but will also make them more economical and environment friendly.

It may be noted that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a cruise on the river Ganga in Kashi on Dev Deepawali last year, he had strongly stated that work should be undertaken to get the holy river rid of toxic smoke and noise of diesel-powered boats. The state government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took up the task as a priority.

The state government has taken up a target to run about 500 CNG motorboats in the holy river till Dev Deepawali on November 19. With this, the holy Ganga will be the first river in the world, where CNG based boats will run on such a large scale.

The move will also benefit the tourists coming to Varanasi. Tourists visiting the religious city of Kashi will go boating in the river and will see the buildings, temple-monasteries standing for centuries on the banks of the crescent-shaped ghats. The tourists will now be able to breathe better and enjoy their boat rides as the poisonous smoke from the previously operated diesel engines have been cut down significantly and also the loud sound of the roaring engines will no more be a disturbance.

A plan for a floating CNG station in the Ganga is also on the anvil. With this, CNG can also be filled in the middle of the Ganges during boating.

Smart City General Manager, D Vasudevam told that about 1700 small and big boats ply in the holy river. Of these, about 500 boats are going to run on diesel engines. About 177 boats have been fitted with CNG engines already. The target is to run the remaining motorboats with CNG engines till Dev Deepawali. This work is being done by GAIL India under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CNG engines are being installed in 1700 small and big boats with a budget of about 29 crores.

In this, about Rs 1.5 lakh is being spent on a small boat, while the cost of a big boat and barge is about Rs 2.5 lakh. A free CNG kit is being installed in the boats of the sailors. Suman Kumar Rai, Project Manager of the Smart City said that the diesel engine will be withdrawn from the boat which will have CNG based engines.

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There is a ‘daughter station’ at the ghat itself. The dispenser has also been installed on the jetty. Sailors say that they are covering twice the distance with a CNG engine at half the cost. Tourists are also feeling good due to no smoke and loud noise.

Cutting carbon emission with CNG

The CNG-based engine reduces greenhouse gas emissions by seven to 11 per cent compared to diesel and petrol engines, while the pollution is also reduced due to the absence of gases like sulfur dioxide (SO2). When a boat is operated with a diesel engine, toxic fumes are released which are very harmful to the people living nearby, whereas this is not the case with CNG.

The loud sound of the diesel engine vibrates, which has a bad effect on humans as well as aquatic animals and also corrodes and scars the ecosystem. Along with this, the historical heritage standing on the banks of the Ghat for thousands of years was also getting damaged. CNG is less flammable than diesel, so the risk of disasters from boats will also be reduced.

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