It would soon be possible to commute between Allahabad and Varanasi via the river route as the two cities would be connected through an inland waterway before the 'Kumbh mela' in 2019, Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.
Gadkari made the announcement after his meeting here with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during which they discussed various transport projects for the state.
Jointly addressing the media after the meeting, Gadkari said since around 15 crore devotees visit the 'Kumbh mela' in a single day, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister requested him to develop a waterway between Allahabad and Varanasi.
"Though the distance between Allahabad and Varanasi does not fall within our original National Waterway-1 project from Varanasi to Haldia, but we would develop the proposed stretch as a waterway," Gadkari said.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India would try to develop the stretch at the same scale as the National Waterways before the next 'Kumbh mela', he added.
"But if that is not possible by 2019, we would at least ensure that during the 2019 Kumbh, visitors would be able to travel between Varanasi and Allahabad through the water transport system," Gadkari said.
Gadkari said the Inland Waterways Authority would buy special steamers to ply between the two cities, and added that he would also ask the Uttar Pradesh government to involve private players to make it possible to transport people at a large scale through the river route.
"To make the next Kumbh successful, we would do everything possible as far as the road and waterways transport sectors are concerned," Gadkari said.