Thursday, December 3, 2009

UK MP Galloway calls for int'l Tipai probe

Dhaka, Dec 02 (

Visiting British parliamentarian George Galloway on Wednesday called for an international enquiry into the probable environmental impact of India's proposed Tipaimukh Dam.

Galloway made the call at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity auditorium.

The MP said an international investigation was required on whether the dam has any negative effect on a section of both Bangladesh and Indian population.

He said the Tipaimukh Dam is not an issue that concerns only Bangladesh and India. As it has consequences on the climate and environment, it is an international issue, he added.

Galloway said a vast area of Bangladesh will experience drought in the dry season and flooding in the rainy season if the dam is constructed.

"I am not against India. I consider India to be a friend. My campaign is not against India," he said.

"India is a big country. Bangladesh is not. Not only Bangladeshi people, a section of Indian people will also be affected. Even the Indian expatriates in London protested … against the proposed dam," he said answering to a query.

Galloway said, as an MP in London, he is the representative of the 40,000 people of Sylhet there and it is his duty to see the advantages and disadvantages of these people, who will be victims of Tipaimukh dam.

"I am worried that, if the dam is built, the management system of the Surma basin will be seriously damaged. It can bring utmost danger for the Sylhet area," he said.

Galloway led a UK delegation and a huge Bangladeshi crowd on a march Sunday from Sylhet city to the border with India where the river Barak divides into the Shurma and Kushiara.

The march was arranged to draw global attention to the potentially devastating impact of the proposed dam on Sylhet and the entire north-eastern region of Bangladesh.

Along with George Galloway MP, the delegates include MP candidate from Respect for the upcoming UK election, councillors Abjol Miah and M Mamunur Rashid, and 17 other British representatives. They returned to Dhaka on Tuesday.

Galloway was an MP of the British Labour Party for a long time. He left the party protesting the UK government's role in Iraq war. Later, he was elected an MP from the British Respect party.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

India’s Bloodless War against Bangladesh

Sajjad Shaukat

Unlike the past wars, being fought through the traditional armies with tanks and machine guns, the arena of war has changed, encompassing all the spheres. In the modern era, electronics have made it difficult for the military to serve as the automatic dominant sphere in every war, covering all the land, sea and space domains. Now, war with non-lethal weapons can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a rival country or enemy. It will be conducted in non-war spheres, entailing non-military means and tactics as part of the new warfare.

New technology is being utilized by the new warriors to carry out all forms of financial, network and media attacks. Most of these attacks are of non-military-types, yet they can be completely viewed as equal to warfare actions. In other words, bloody warfare has been replaced by bloodless warfare as much as possible.

Judging in these terms, India’s plan for the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam, built on the river Barak is part of its most dangerous scheme of bloodless warfare, being conducted against Bangladesh in order to further harm all political, economic, financial and social spheres of that small country.

India had already started it bloodless war against Bangladesh when the latter had refused to serve as satellite state of New Delhi which had played a key role in the dismemberment of Pakistan. For this purpose, India constructed the Farakka dam on the Indian side of the Ganges River to stop flow of water to Bangladesh.

Despite the protest of Dhaka, Indian rulers used various delaying tactics to resolve the issue of Farakka dam. In this respect, Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) met many a times to settle the issue, but could not produce any positive results. In April, 1975, India assured that it would not operate feeder canal until a final agreement was reached between New Delhi and Dhaka on the sharing of Ganges water. Bangladesh was assured of getting 40,000 cusecs during the dry season.

After the assassination of Sheik Mujib’s on August 15, 1975, by availing the political unrest in Bangladesh, India violated the agreement (MOU) by stealing and diverting the full capacity of 40,000 cusecs of water. The matter was brought to the attention of UN General Assembly, which on November 26, 1976 adopted a consensus, directing the parties to arrive at a fair and expeditious settlement. On November 5, 1977 the Ganges Waters Agreement was signed, assuring 34,500 cusecs for Bangladesh. But the JRC statistics shows very clearly that Bangladesh did not get her due share during the subsequent years. After Sheikh Hasina was elected Prime Minister, she visited India and signed a treaty with her counterpart Deve Gowda on December 12, 1996. The treaty stipulated that below a certain flow rate, India and Bangladesh will each share half of the water. But New Delhi has continued violating the treaty by using more water of the river at the cost of Bangladesh. The JRC report of March 9, 2009 revealed that from 1999 to 2009, India intermittently reduced the water flow to Bangladesh.

A study conducted in the United States by Bridge and Husain, have identified Farakka as the root cause behind arsenic poisoning with groundwater in Bangladesh. A report of 2004 stated that over 80 rivers of Bangladesh dried up during last three decades due to the construction of the Farakka barrage by India. Some environmentalists have termed Farakka Barrage as the greatest man-made economic disaster of our time.

However, people of Bangladesh have been facing disastrous effects of the Farakka Barrage such as frequent flooding due to changes in the natural flow of the Ganges; river transportation problems during dry season; increased salinity threatening crops, animal life, drinking water and industrial activities; reduction in agricultural products and conversion of the fertile agricultural land in wasteland due to shortage of water.

While researchers have already been describing Farakka dam as the last of criminal calamity imposed by India on Dhaka, the proposed construction of Tipaimukh Dam in the neighboring Manipur state will prove as another Indian water-bomb on Bangladesh, giving a wake up call to the people in connection with its prospective dangers.

The Tipaimukh, a multipurpose hydel project on the Barak river is located about 200 km upstream of the border of Bangladesh, and where it is, recently, under attack in Bangladesh by opposition parties, students and environmental groups who have been protesting by saying that it could cause desertification, entailing other adverse effects like Farakka dam.

On December 16, 2006, India’s Union minister for industries laid the foundation stone of the Tipaimukh project. According to a source of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), the work in January of 2007 mainly dealt with underground drilling at the reservoir site of the project. The Brahmaputra Board, a wing of the Union water resources ministry, drilled those sites in 1997. This year, New Delhi is fully prepared to start building this dam by setting aside its impact on Bangladesh, while neglecting protests in this regard.

In July, this year, a 10-member all-party delegation of parliamentarians from Bangladesh reached Tipaimukh and studied the project site. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Bandladesh’s delegation led by Abdur Razzaq, chairman of the standing committee of the parliament water resources held a meeting with Indian Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who told the former that the Tipaimukh “project is not an irrigation project or a water diversion scheme, it is a hydel project and in no way will harm Bangladesh’s interest.” But in fact, just like the Farakka dam, Indian leaders have been verbally satisfying Dhaka by totally ignoring the drastic effects.

Some reports suggests that in connivance with the central authorities, the state government of Manipur kept all the documents relating to the Tipaimukh project in secrecy due to the reaction of Bangladesh. In this regard, even the proposed dam is unpopular in the Manipur State where it is being constructed. Barak river has been the source of livelihood for the Hmar people for the last many years and will affect the source of their livelihood once the Tipaimukh dam is erected. Hmar Students’ Union has strongly warned the authority against initiating any work without prior consent of the people of the areas to be affected by the dam. Nonetheless, villagers are feeling fear of losing their dwelling places along with their living ways?submerging some of the villages into the water.

Citizens’ Concern on Dam and Development (CCDD) has also warned the Indian authorities that if the construction of the dam is taken up without the consent of the people to be affected, they, with the support of other like-minded people, will block its construction under any circumstances.

Besides, damaging bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries, this new dam will especially target millions of Bangladeshis, snatching away their means of livelihood, forcing them to become internally displaced persons, and thereby worsening Bangladesh’s overall economy. No doubt, it will result in political, financial and social implications. In the modern era of technological innovations, Indian such a criminal act by the construction of the dam will amount to the consequences of a full-scale war, though bloodless in nature, but will make Bangladesh vulnerable to unemployment, shortage of products, reduction of resources, thirst, starvation and deaths including a number of inter-related problems of grave nature.

Bangladeshi people have already suffered miserably from the Farakka Barrage and cannot afford to see another one built to threaten them. In light of New Delhi’s previous records of dishonoring agreements on Farakka dam, Bangladesh, cannot trust on any new promise.

If India wants to meet energy needs of its people, it can better do so through its several nuclear power plants. As a matter of fact, India seems determined to erect Tipaimukh dam as part of its bloodless war against Bangladesh in order to affect millions of people adversely, and to destroy Bangladesh’s infrastructure without the use of a single bullet.

Best option for Dhaka is to cope this new style war of New Delhi through its own tactics of modern warfare. In this respect, demonstrations inside Bangladesh, contacts of their opposition leaders with the affected communities of Manipur, particularly abroad, organising protests in the US and Europe in cooperation with the environmentalists are essential for the survival of the country. All these efforts are likely to succeed with the help of media which has become an important tool of warfare, and can also be employed for defensive purposes. Such a reaction is necessary for Bangladesh to eliminate Indian bloodless war trap, forcing New Delhi to abandon the project.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations. Email:

Monday, November 30, 2009

UK MP leads march against Tipai dam

Dhaka, Nov 29 (

British MP George Galloway and a large delegation from Britain marched Sunday from Sylhet city to the Bangladesh border with India where the river Barak divides into the Shurma and Kushiara.

The British delegation along with a huge Bangladeshi crowd began the long-march towards the site of India's proposed Tipaimukh Dam in the morning. Border guards stopped them from crossing the border.

The march is arranged to draw global attention to the devastating potential impact of the proposed dam on Sylhet and the entire north-eastern region of Bangladesh.

"The potential impact on both depriving Sylhet of Vital Water and threatening serious Flooding make this a 'weapon of mass destruction' aimed at the heart of Sylhet and the people of Bangladesh," Galloway said.

Along with George Galloway MP, the delegates include MP candidate from Respect for the upcoming UK election, councillors Abjol Miah and M Mamunur Rashid, and 17 other British representatives.

Galloway has already met with the former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, former president and Jatiya Party chairman H M Ershad, Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nijami and Sylhet mayor Badruddin Ahmed Kamran.

They will meet with the president Zillur Rahman and prime minister Sheikh Hasina this week.

The delegation will return to Dhaka on Dec 2, 2009 and will hold a press conference at Reporters Unity before their departure from Bangladesh.

Mir Ezaz Ali, secretary of Respect and campaign manager for Galloway MP, has been coordinating the event.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Kashmir Watch, Nov 14


Sylhet, the beautiful paradise of Bangladesh, is going to turn into a vast barren wasteland very soon. Located on the banks of the winding pair of rivers Surma River and Jaintia and surrounded by Khasi and Tripura hills, this city is situated in the north-eastern region of Bangladesh. The Sylhet region is well known for its tea gardens and tropical forests. The valley has good number of big natural depressions, called ‘haors’. During winter these haors are vast stretches of green land, but in the rainy season they turn into turbulent seas. These haors provide a sanctuary to the millions of migratory birds who fly from Siberia across the Himalayas to avoid the severe cold there. India has started the construction of the Tapaimukh on the Barrak River in Manipur State just 100 km off the Bangladesh border. It is likely to affect two major rivers of Bangladesh; Surma and Kushiarra which are life line for the Sylhet region. The Dam will be 390 meters long and 162.8 meters high. It will be at an altitude of about 180 meter above mean sea level with a maximum reservoir level of 178 meters. The construction of this dam has stirred a lot of fear in Bangladesh because the whole economic prosperity of Bangladesh depends upon the river system.

Since 1975 the sharing of river waters has been a bone of contention between India and Bangladesh. The construction of Farraka and Teesta barrage from India has already added salt to injury on the part of Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh has protested the construction of these two dams by calling it a violation of bilateral water sharing agreements between the two countries but the Indian government paid no heed to this hue and cry and started construction of the Tapaimukh dam. In the beginning the project was kept secret.

The people of Bangladesh came to know of this dam when in April 2009 the Indian Foreign Secretary visited Bangladesh and requested the government to send a delegation to visit the Dam site. Since then various political parties, environment groups, and people from Dhaka and Sylhet and other cities are in a state of protest against this construction.

The Dam was originally designed to contain flood waters in the lower Barrak valley, but hydro power generation was later incorporated. The project will have an installation capacity of 1500 MW and a firm generation of 412 MW. The Dam will permanently submerge an area of 275.50 square kilometers. Reportedly a pick up barrage is also being planned, 95 Km down stream of Dam site. Bangladeshi experts are of the opinion that the construction of Dam will disrupt the seasonal flow of river and will have an adverse effect on downstream agriculture and fisheries. Some experts fear the desertification of Sylhet region due to decrease of water flow in Meghna basin comprising River Surma, Kushiarra and Meghna. Majority of Bangladeshis are in anticipated fear of the probable damage that may be created after construction of Dam.

Not only in Bangladesh but also in India the construction of this dam is facing a very strong opposition. More than twenty influential social and political organizations in Manipur state have united under the banner of "Action Committee against Tapaimukh Project". These organizations have termed it as, "Water Bomb" due to its adverse effects on environment in Barrak Valley. It means that this dam is going to cause a lot of damage not only to the economy of Bangladesh but also to the people of the Manipur State. The politicians from Manipur are of the opinion that as a result of the construction of this dam about 286.20 Sq Km area will be submerged for ever. More than 40 thousands people will be rendered homeless. Eight villages situated in Barrak valley will be completely under water. More than 90 villages will be adversely affected. About 27,242 hectors of cultivable land will be lost.

The construction of the Tapaimukh Dam is being opposed by the People of Southern Assam also. Various social organizations in Southern Assam are opposing the construction of Dam due to devastating environmental impact on down stream Barrak basin. The Silchar based Society of Activist and Volunteer for Environments (SAVE) is leading the resistance movement against the construction of this dam in the Southern Assam.

People, civil society, NGOs and environmentalists of Bangladesh, Manipur and the Southern Assam have joined hand together against the construction of this dam. They are strongly criticizing the proposed constructions through seminars, rallies and demonstrations. The experts fear that construction of the Dam will affect the livelihood of about 50 million people spanning sixteen districts in Sylhet region and many more in Manipur and the Southern Assam.

Faced with public protests, the government of India has adopted a "wait and see" policy with several ministers citing Indian claims that dam would not be harmful to anyone. To pacify the people of Bangladesh a parliamentary delegation was invited to India in August 2009, to visit the dam site but the tour to the dam site was ironically cancelled due to bad weather.

The construction of the Tapaimukh Dam is nothing but an effort to convert Bangladesh into a desert by destroying its agricultural economy. We can say that the power luxury for India is a death question for Bangladesh.

Author is Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs. Email:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tipai Dam protests to mark Bhasani's Long March

Ehsanul Haque Jasim

Different organisations of the country are taking preparations to launch a massive movement on Tipaimukh Dam issue to voice their demand for stopping its construction to save vast areas of the country from desertification.

To mark the 29th death anniversary of legendary leader Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, which will be observed on November 17, some organisations will announce different programmes on Tipaimukh Dam issue in memory of his historic Farakka Long March.

On the occasion of his death anniversary, the Tipaimukh Dam issue will be discussed by organising seminars, roundtables, discussions and other programmes by different organisations.

In May 1976 Maulana Bhasani led a massive Long March demanding demolition of the Farakka Barrage constructed by India. It was the first people's movement against India on distribution of the Ganges's water.

Surma Kushiara Meghna Bachao Andalon, an organisation of people of 16 districts of northern-eastern portion of the country, will organise a rally at Muktagan in the city on October 15. From the rally, it will announce the schedule of movement on Tipaimukh Dam issue, informed its Member Secretary Md Selim Uddin.

He told this reporter that Maulana Bhasani played a leading role at a critical moment of the nation by raising his voice against Farakka Barrage. We will raise our voice against Tipaimukh Dam in the absence of a figure like Maulana Bhasani saying that he is the pioneer of movement against India.

Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) already announced a long march towards Tipaimukh Dam. Led by its chief Mufti Syed Rezaul Karim Pirsaheb of Charmonai, the long march will start from Dhaka on December 24.

IAB leaders and workers are now taking preparations to make success the long march.

Its central leader Shahidul Islam Kabir told The New Nation that already all the units of Sylhet Division of the party are working for making the long march successful. IAB will, anyhow, implement its announced long march on time in the interest of the country, said IAB joint secretary Prof ATM Hemayet Uddin.

In protest against the construction of the dam, the Sylhet unit of Jamaat-e Islami is taking preparations to hold a boat march on Kushiara river towards Tipaimukh Dam. Already it held a unique boat march on Surma river two months ago. Former Jamaat lawmaker Farid Uddin Chowdhury told this reporter the boat march on Kushiara will be held within a short time. We are taking preparation to hold the programme, he said.

Meanwhile, the units of leftist parties in Sylhet division are also planning to initiate programmes, sources said.

A three-day long march towards the dam was held from August 8 to 10 under the banner of Sylhet Division Development Action Council (SDDAC). The participants of the long march could not pass the border of Zakiganj due to police interception. At that time they announced a seven-day air march towards Delhi on January 8 to 15.

SDDAC president Advocate Abed Raza said that the air march programme will be implemented on time. "We will take visas from Indian High Commission to reach Delhi to participate at the air march," he said. He hoped that the government will help them to implement the programme.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Tipai Dam to adversely affect country

Jessore Correspondent

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said the existence of Bangladesh would be threatened if the Tipaimukh Dam is constructed.

Jatiya Sartho Rakkha Forum Jessore branch organised the roundtable titled `Tipaimukh Dam of India: Bangladesh's Existence Threatened" at the Jessore Press Club.

Kazi Monirul Huda, member of the Forum moderated the roundtable while it was addressed, among others, by central vice president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) Rabiul Alam, ex-district secretary of AL Sharif Abdur Rakib, journalist Benjin Khan, Jamir Ahmed, Fakir Sawkat, Fakhre Alam, political leaders Aminul Kamal Rumi, Amjad Hossen and Mahidur Rahman Tutul.

The speakers at the programme said, the ecological and environmental situation of Bangladesh would be severely damaged if the Tipaimukh Dam is constructed. They underscored the need for unity to make India desist from constructing the dam.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tipaimukh dam: IAB procession towards Indian HC intercepted

Staff Reporter

Leaders of Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) yesterday said that at any cost they would resist the construction of Tipaimukh dam across the river Borak to save the country's vast area from desertification by forming strong mass movement.

Leaders of IAB said at a rally at Muktangan in the city before starting a procession towards Indian High Commission in Dhaka demanding stopping the construction of the dam.

IAB chief Mufti Syed Rzaul Karim Pirsaheb Chormonai attended the programme as chief guest. Its nayebe ameer Moulana Abdur Rashid Pirsaheb Barguna, presidium members Moulana Syed Musaddek Billah Almadani and Moulana Nurul Huda Foyezi, general secretary Moulana Yunus Ahmed, joint secretary Prof Mahbubur Rahman, city unit president Prof ATM Hemayet Uddin, central leaders Prof Syed Belayet Hossain, Moulana Ahmed Abdul Qaiyum and Sheikh Fazle Rabbi Masud, among others, addressed the programme.

When the procession reached Malibag, police intercepted and the procession could not reach its destination.

IAB chief said that the Indian government already completed all preparations to construct Tiaimukh dam at Monipur in India at the upper reaches of the rivers Surma and Kushiara violating the international law. However, we are committed to resist the construction of the dam, he added.

He called upon the citydwellers to the IAB long march programme towards Tipaimukh Dam on December 24.