E40 Inland Waterway Project _ UPSC

E40 Inland Waterway Project | UPSC


Dredging of river near Chernobyl could spell disaster for 28 million in Ukraine

      WHY IN NEWS:

Pripyat river is being drained as part of the E40 inland navigation project to connect the Baltic and Black Seas

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Environmental degradation


The dredging of the Pripyat river that flows near the site of the infamous nuclear accident at Chernobyl, could wreak havoc on an estimated 28 million people in Ukraine


  • The Pripyat river flows from northwestern Ukraine to its confluence with the Dnieper river, Ukraine’s most important river, on which its capital city of Kiev is located.
  • On April 26, 1986, a blast occurred at the No.4 reactor in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near Pripyat city in the then Soviet Ukraine.

E-40 Waterway



  • The Pripyat river passes through the exclusion zone established around the site.
  • The city of Pripyat, with a population of 45,000, was completely evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster .
  • The dredging of the Pripyat river that began recently, is being done at eight locations, four of which lie barely a few kilometres from the remains of reactor No.4.
  • Some 28 million people downstream who depend on the Dnieper river for water and food, could be at increased radiation risk .

The Pripyat river is being dredged as part of the restoration of a bilateral waterway between Ukraine and Belarus .

  • The Pripyat will become a permanent source of radioactive contaminants because annual dredging .
  • This would contaminate the water supply of eight million people, including the population of Kiev.
  • While irrigation and the use of dredged soil for agriculture could contaminate crops that 20 million Ukrainians depend upon.

Besides the threat of radioactive contamination, the E40 waterway will dry up rivers, damage landscapes and negatively impact wildlife .

  • Changes to the hydrology of the region where E40 is being built — Polesia — could also dry out its peatlands, turning an important carbon sink into a serious carbon source.


  • The E40 Inland Waterway (E40 IWW) is a transnational project .

It is aimed at establishing a 2,000 km Black-to-Baltic-Sea inland waterway through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine connecting the seaports of Gdansk and Kherson. 

  • It consists of the following rivers and canals: Vistula, Bug (new canal to be built), Mukhavets, Pina, Pripyat and Dnieper.
  • The reconstruction plans of the E40 mention building a bypass canal in Poland, six or seven dams and locks in the Pripyat.
  • Dredging is necessary on the entire route so that multi tonnage river-sea vessels can follow the course of the rivers.
  • The biggest part of the capital investments (around EUR 12 billion) is directed to the Polish section of the route Vistula—Brest.


The E40 Inland Waterway is expected to endanger valuable natural areas in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine.

  • These include 29 protected areas in Poland, some of which are part of the Natura 2000 network, about 27 areas in Ukraine.
  • This including two natural reserves, six national parks and the Chernobyl Radiation and Environmental Biosphere Reserve.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The E40 Waterway is a large infrastructural project which will affect various rivers, regions, several protected areas, including national parks, Ramsar sites and Natura 2000 areas.

Because of these adverse impacts banks should not invest in any section of the project.

  • The waterway would go through the Chernobyl exclusion zone .
  • Financially the E40 IWW can only be implemented if foreign investors provide the required financing for the project.
     SOURCES:DownToEarth | E40 Inland Waterway Project | UPSC

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