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.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tipaimukh dam report handed to parliament

Dhaka, Oct 7 (

A report on the all-party parliamentary team's fact-finding mission on Tipaimukh dam project site was presented in parliament on Wednesday.

Water resources ministry-related parliamentary standing committee chairman Abdur Razzak presented the eight-page report.

Razzak, a former water resources minister, said, "During low-altitude flight of the helicopter no structure came into the view of the team of representatives.

"No preparatory activity was seen to create any barrage or structure at the low-lying areas of the project. No physical work had started for the implementation of the project," he said.

The report said Indian foreign minister S M Krishna and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde assured the representative team that there was no irrigation component under Tipaimukh project.

No barrage or irrigation structure will be constructed on the low end or anywhere else and no water will be taken from the Borak River, they had told the team.

"The project is only being implemented to create hydroelectricity and decrease the occurrence of floods. No structure for collecting water would be created in the low end of the project," the report quoted Indian officials as saying.

India's contentious dam project is planned to cross the Barak River, which enters into Bangladesh as the Surma and Kushiara rivers. The two rivers are lifeline for hundreds of water bodies in the greater Sylhet region of Bangladesh.

A 10-member representative team headed by Razzak visited India from July 29– Aug 04. But physical visit to the site in the northeastern Manipur state was not possible on July 31 and Aug 2 due to poor weather conditions.

Razzak said on return from India that the ministers had assured them that they would not implement any project to harm Bangladesh.

Main opposition BNP has been among the loudest critics of the proposed dam, although it failed to take up the offer of sending two MPs with the delegation to India.

The report discussed various studies conducted by Indian organisations and said, "There is no major change visible in the hydro-morphological aspect in the project area."

It says that the Indian authority has for the first time handed over a booklet with detailed information and data about the project to the team. And the foreign and power minister of India have promised to give any information or data about hydrology, topography, environment of the project if Bangladesh asks for.

The report mentioned constitution of a specialist committee to study the information and data about the project.

India had already said on a number of occasions the dam would not withhold water, but environmentalists and the people of Bangladesh, as well as Manipur state, remain concerned over the impact of the projected dam in vulnerable downstream areas.

PM stresses negotiation on Tipai dam issue

Star Online Report

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today reiterated in the parliament that her government would not make any concession that may harm Bangladesh’s interests through construction of Tipaimukh dam by India.

Responding to a supplementary question from ex-Law Minister Abdul Matin Khasru, Hasina said the government has decided to constitute an expert committee to monitor the situation.

The prime minister expressed firm optimism that her government will settle the issue of Tipaimukh dam through discussion with India.

She said India assured the parliamentary delegation that visited the Tipaimukh-dam site that the dam was designed to produce hydroelectricity and reduce the intensity of floods.

“Instead of getting locked in arguments, we better resolve the problem through discussion. I’ve firm conviction that any problem could be resolved through discussion," she said.

"We had settled the Ganges water-sharing issue through negotiation with New Delhi and signed an agreement for 30 years on the sharing of waters of the Ganges. So I firmly believe that we can resolve any problem through negotiation.

"We already decided to form an expert committee on the issue and negations will also continue with India," she added.

Time yet to come to raise Tipai issue at UN : Razzak

Staff Reporter

October 10, 2009

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Water Resources Abdur Razzak yesterday said time has not yet come to raise the Taipaimukh Dam issue at the United Nations.

He made the observation while briefing reporters at the Media Centre in Sangsad Bhaban after a meeting of the Standing Committee.

"There is no need to go to the United Nations with the Tipaimukh issue," Abdur Razzak, said.

He said the Indian Prime Minister at a UN function in New York assured Bangladesh that they would not take any initiative that may be harmful to Bangladesh.

Besides, he said the Indian Foreign Minister and the Power Minister also gave assurances to the parliamentary team headed by him during its visit to New Delhi that India would not do anything which could affect Bangladesh.

Abdur Razzak said Indian side provided them information and data on the proposed dam and assured providing more information in future.

Asked to comment on the progress following the visit before three months, Razzak said they had to take time to submit reports of the team due to non-cooperation of the opposition. The report on the visit to Tipaimukh site was submitted before the House on October 7.

Razzak said the opposition lawmakers should join the session and speak on the issue if they have anything to say.

The report suggested formation of a special team which would work on the issue so that Indian government cannot do anything harmful for Bangladesh through the project in future.

Replying to a question, Abdur Razzak termed the Ganges Barrage project an appropriate step.

Emphasising the need for implementing the Ganges Barrage project he said Kushtia, Mathabhanga and Rajshahi irrigation projects would face serious impacts, if the barrage is not constructed.

He said the government is communicating with international agencies to mobilise funds for implementing the project.

The meeting was informed that connection between Rajbari and Sujanagar of Pabna has been selected as a possible site for the proposed Ganges Barrage project.

The project cost which was estimated at Tk 2,000 crore in 1996 would increase in present context.

Source: The New Nation:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tipaimukh Dam: A threat to Bangladesh

Prof M Aktarul Islam Chowdhury

Tipaimukh hydraulic dam (THD) to be constructed by our giant neighbor India in the upstream at a distance of 200km (direct distance 100 km) from Amalshid border of Jakigang of Sylhet district of Bangladesh followed by Fulertal Barrage in 100 km downstream of Tipaimukh dam and 100 upstream of Bangladesh border to divert the water to Indian Province Assam is a stern threat to the existence of Bangladesh hydrodynamically, geo-morphologically, geographically, tectonically-seismically, structurally, ecologically, bio-diversically, anthropologically, agriculturally, socially, culturally, economically, financially causing not only environmental hazard but also socio-economic and health risks to the mass people of Bangladesh from all walks of life .

Throughout the world, 263 trans-boundary (passed through more than one countries bordering geographically) rivers and lakes spread of which 57 trans-boundary rivers are located in Bangladesh of which 54 rivers are trans-boundary with India. About 45000 large dams extended over 140 countries of the world. India constructed more than 6000 dams of which more than 50 dams are constructed by our Giant Neighbor India on 35 trans-boundary rivers between Bangladesh and India without bothering Bangladesh, violating International River Laws and without any negotiation with downstream Bangladesh.

Dams in USA: A total of 75,000, including 6575 large dams; 2400 privately owned hydropower dams; no new large dams in recent years; 100s of dams removed since 1999; plan to remove about 10,000 dams by 2010.

Dams in India: As per CWC (1994), a total of 4291 large dams in operation (3159 in Maha, Guj, MP); over 50% constructed in 1971-90; a total of 695 dams under construction; 22 dams are being constructed in the north-eastern seven sister provinces of India.

India misuses all of these dams withdrawing unlimited waters in up-stream violating international laws and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreements, treaties between the trans-boundary countries. Consequently environment of Bangladesh are at the extreme risks.

Recently Tipaimuk dam on the Barak being constructed by India is the threat to the existence of Bangladesh in the train of environmental havoc and disaster to lean the bio-diversity and wetlands of north-eastern Bangladesh specially in the Sylhet basin.

History of India with Bangladesh is not optimistic rather crucial, and ironic due to illogical withdrawal of water from Ganges in dry season violating conditions of signed treaty & international laws and again flooding Bangladesh releasing gigantic amount of water opening all the gates of Farakka dam in rainy season. Same is the case between India and Nepal.

Bangladesh will face a lot of problems specially in dry seasons in the form of desertification and the severe flooding in the rainy seasons due to release of huge amount of water for the last three decades.

An ironic, sarcastic and double-crossing man-made river-killer Tipaimukh dam by Giant Neighbor Iindia to kill the mighty rivers, streams and canals; dry up haors, swamps and other wetlands of its North-eastern region of Bangladesh.

Features of Tipaimukh Dam: the construction on the river Barak will be completed in 2011; it is rock dam located at the village of Tipaimukh; the THD is being constructed with an objective of holding water, generating 1500 MW electricity, flood control, and irrigation; cost is about 9000 Indian Rupees; length of the dam 390 m, breadth 162.8 m and height 178 m located at 108 m above the sea level storing 16 bcm water.

Environmental impacts of the dam will include: Increase the frequency of very large and small floods; Severity of flash flood in pre-monsoon due to the heavy rainfall in the hilly region due to the instantaneous release of water; Devastating Floods in rainy season due to the release of surplus water in every year .

Decrease of water flow in Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna; Extreme low flow in of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna during dry season after commissioning are expected to low as 10% of the flow of before dam construction. If Fulertal barrage is constructed, water availability in Surma-Kushiara will be severely threatened.

Siltation in the river beds of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna due to suppression of sediment flow.

Possible morphological change of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna causing change in the river course by probable severe earthquake of Richter scale greater than 8 due to dam failure in the earthquake prone area of Tipaimukh and redistribution of water flow, siltation etc.

Change in water quality (turbidity, dissolved gases, minerals, metals etc.) of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna.

Ultimate killing of the rivers in downstream Bangladesh; THD will kill the rivers Surma, Kushiara, Kalani, Meghna and their tributaries and distributaries.

Desertification and hydrological draughtness in seven districts Sylhet, Moulavibazar, Sunamgang, Habigang, Kishorgang, Netrokona & Brahmanbaria at the first stage; . Desertification and draughtness cause the disticts of Narshingdi, Munshigang, Narayangang, Comilla, Chandpur, Shariatpur, Lakhmipur. Barishal at the long term. Desertification and hydrological draughtness will be more severe if Fulertal Barrage is constructed.

Salinity intrusion in the new areas and increase in salinity in existing saline zone of lower Meghna due to the suppression of freshwater flow specially in dry season that will advance to upstream day by day causing severe crisis in water use in drinking, domestic and agricultural purpose, reducing soil fertility affecting crop production; saline water will reach to Sylhet within 15 years of commission of dam.

Loss of fertility of the soil causing severe declination of crops, fruits etc.

Reduction of wetland in haor areas dropping fresh water, curtailing fish due to food shortage, disappearance of migratory birds, dying trees, herbs, shrubs among others.

Harsh effects on swamp forest of haor area leading to loss of animal, plant, birds, reptile and fish biodiversity and ultimate destruction of swamp forest in wetlands.

There will be severe effects in river navigability of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna shrinking potential water transport route; reduce the production of paddy and vegetables in north-eastern Bangladesh; cause destruction of fish habitats in rivers, streams and canals leading to tremendous reduction in the availability of fresh water fishes effecting aquatic ecology severely.

It will also cause deterioration of ecosystem (both terrestrial and aquatic); Decrease of growth rate in all species; Plankton, flora and fauna will be under serious stress; decrease of groundwater recharge (one-third/fourth of GW recharged by rain water and rest by flood water, if water flow is reduced by 30 to 50%, normal flood will be disappeared hampering GW recharge) severely; affect forest bio-diversity decreasing the forest of both of the plain land and hilly areas ; Ultimately forests will be destructed. It will increase the probability of disaster in downstream Bangladesh if the dam collapses due to any kind of failure and extremely large down-flow stored water; aeriously affect irrigation for Boro production at late rainy season when water flow will stop. Again if water flow increases by 110% in winter, it will affect boro paddy and vegetables causing food crisis.

The risk of earthquake will increase due to the Tipaimukh dam on the seismic fault line of three tectonic plates. In 1897, Shilong earthquake of 8.7 scale changed the river course of Bramahputra. Tipaimukh will provide 500 feet deep reservoir that will exert more pressure of 160 ton per square meter that will increase the earthquake risk tremendously.

The dam will adversely affect the social life of north-eastern region of Bangladesh specially Sylhet region and lead to loss of livelihoods and habitats of a large number of families.

Bangladesh is already under threat of climate change due to the continuous emission of GHG by the fossil fuel from the industries of the USA - the largest industrialized country of the world, China - the most populous country of the world, India - the mighty Giant neighbor of Bangladesh.

If the Tipaimukh impacts are added the problems already aggravated by the Farakka barrage in the Western and South-western parts of Bangladesh would further worsen.

Things that need to be done on an urgent basis include: Effective bilateral negotiation, common understanding and mutually benefited collaboration through realistic and practicable (that can be implement) water sharing of trans-boundary rivers in black and white (not in paper and agreement only) playing intelligent , tactful and diplomatic role in Bangladesh-India Joint River Commission (JRC) from Bangladesh part like the Indus River between India and Pakistan and many neighboring countries of the world.

Presenting the research study based data by experienced and real expert groups in the JRC meeting with strong arguments, reasons, clues and points etc.

Members of the expert group should be selected from expertise specialists and renown researchers of the specific fields.

Significant number of prior studies to assess the actual scenario of the trans-boundary rivers at the crucial and strategic points applying proper technology and knowhow, economic feasibility, financial viability and equi-participation from all walks of life of the society as well as the scientific and authentic study for flow data, water level data of river, water level data of groundwater incorporated with latest sophisticated ultrasonic mechanism, advanced computer modeling and information technology, before going to JRC meeting.

Academicians, researchers, experts as well as engineers should come forward to raise and open the adverse environmental, socio-economic and health impacts of Tipaimukh in the daily life, life of people in the north-eastern region specially Sylhet basin.

Engineers, experts and technologists should explain hydrodynamic, geo-morphological, geographical, tectonic, seismic, structural, ecological, bio-diversical, anthropological, agricultural, social, cultural, economical threats of Tipaimukh the people of all walks of life for effectively supporting the Government on the issue .

Lawyers, all type of environmentalists, Civil society, media men (both of print and news media), teli-media, teachers community, intellectuals, social workers, NGOs, public representatives such as parliament members/mayor and counselors of city corporations and municipalities/ chairmen and members of Union Councils should come forward and create awareness among the masses.

The government should the raise the trans-boundary issues like Farakka, and specially the crucial trans-boundary issue if Tipaimukh at international forums such as the UN with the collective efforts and proper cooperation of the opposition.

Bangladesh Government should handle the trans-boundary river issues like Tipaimukh issue very tactfully to realise the interest of the country.

In addition to all kinds of Government initiatives the private sector, NGOs, media groups, civil society, academia, research organizations, experts, intellects, and specialists of trans-boundary arena should raise their voice. The Government should play vital role inside the country as well as in bilateral joint river commission and multilateral and international forums.

(The writer is the senior-most faculty and head, civil and environmental engineering department Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, E-mail: aic_cee @


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Efforts on to intensify movement on Tipaimukh issue

New Nation Report

Remaining silent for some days on account of the holy Ramadan, The people of the greater Sylhet region are taking preparation under the banner of different organisations to intensify movement on the Tipaimukh Dam issue. For this they are chalking out a number of programmes that include boat race in the river of Kushiara.

The Sylhet unit of Bangladesh Jamat-e-Islami (JI) will organise the boat march program as a mark of protesting the construction of a dam at Tipaimukh, Monipur, India over river Borak. The party had already gave a dress rehearsal of the unique program in river Surma passing through Sylhet in which the chief of BJI Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami was present.

Former MP Principal Fariduddin Chowdhury said, the boat march will take place in the middle of October. All the top leaders of the party will participate. Besides, Sylhet Division Development Action Council had already organised various programmes on the issue. It propelled a 'Long March' in August, ending near Zakiganj border.

Advocate Abed Reza, President of the organisation said, they favour tougher movement in order to draw international attention. 'Unless India does not stop the construction work, we shall continue our movement,' added Abed Reza. Further, the expatriates from Sylhet have expressed their solidarity with any action that serves the interest of the people of Sylhet vis-a-vis the country.


Tipaimukh Dam, a potential seismic bomb for South Asia

In the light of findings of Sichuan earthquake, seismic vulnerability, tectonic plate formation and the presence of geological faults, the Tipaimukh Dam is technically and financially not viable. In this scenario, pursuing a project blindly would be not only sheer waste of public money but also a potential seismic bomb for the region,

Arshad H Abbasi

The earthquake that rocked north-eastern India on September 22, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and was of a reasonably long duration, was the fifth in the past 40 days. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, north-eastern India is bracketed in the highest seismic zone of South Asia, where the three Eurasian, Indian, and Myanmar tectonic plates collide in a subduction mechanism. With this unique tectonic setting and coupled with massive geo-tectonic movements recorded during the past several years, geo-scientists have placed this region in the most fragile zone in the seismic map of the continent. North-eastern India has experienced some of the most devastating earthquakes during the past hundred years. Statistics shows that between 1897 and 1952, there were 44 earthquakes that measured 6.5 or more on the Richter scale. Similarly, between 1953 and 1992, the region had 21 earthquakes of similar intensity. Ignoring the geological and seismic vulnerability and recent warning of the rapid melting of the Himalayas, India is going for a 162.8-metre high dam on the river Barak of north-eastern India, with a storage capacity of 15,900 million cubic metres.

Besides this seismic vulnerability with its hidden dangers of a massive dam break, it has also sparked another serious controversy on water sharing between India and Bangladesh in relation to the Farakka Barrage conflict. India is taking advantages of its regional hegemony and geo-position as upper riparian, causing colossal damage to the Bangladeshi agro-economy by unilateral and disproportionate diversion of the Ganges water by the barrage. The case of the Tipaimukh dam is, however, different from the Farakka Barrage, as it would have a huge storage reservoir.

The geological constraints of the dam site have been reported by Dr Soibam Ibotombi of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Manipur, India. According to the report, the tectonic features of the dam site have developed geological faults and fractures that might undergo strike-slip and extensional movements if loaded with the weight of the dam alone. Therefore, these geological faults could be further displaced with accelerated rate by any moderate and large earthquakes and if the dam axis is displaced by a few centimetres a massive disaster leading to huge loss of lives and property in downstream areas could occur.

Putting all seismic and geological constraint aside, no heed is being paid to the protest of local communities and lower riparian Bangladesh and completely ignoring the UN convention on international watercourses. The enormous weight, about 15.9 billion tonnes of water, would bear on the substrata of the dam site could not have been taken into consideration, as scientists today have identified more than 100 cases of earthquakes triggered by reservoirs.

The most serious precedence of dam or reservoir-induced seismicity is the 7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, linked to the construction of the Zipingpu Dam. The case of Sichuan earthquake was presented at the American Geophysical Union and, findings also published in the Chinese Geology and Seismology Journal. The devastating earthquake killed 68,000 people and left about 11 million people homeless. China is spending $146.5 billion to rebuild areas ravaged by the earthquake. In a recent study, it was found that the Zipingpu Dam project was the cause of this devastation. Earthquakes were very unusual for the area as no previous seismic activities were ever recorded.

The Indian authorities ought to remember that triggered by an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude caused because of the filling of a dam flattened the village of Koynanagar in Maharashtra, western India, on December 11, 1967, killing around 180 people, injuring 1,500 and rendering thousands homeless. The dam was seriously damaged and power cut off to Bombay, causing panic among its populace, who felt the quake 230 kilometres from its epicentre. The epicentre of the tremor and numerous fore and aftershocks were all either near the Koyna Dam or under its reservoir.

At a seminar on ‘water dispute in South Asia’, held in Dhaka on August 18-19, in which the water resources secretary of the Bangladesh government disclosed that the Tipaimukh dam was conceived in 1955 but the then erstwhile Pakistani government never agreed to its construction. But, immediately after the independence of Bangladesh, the Indian prime minister rushed to Dhaka to set the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission and in the very first meeting of the commission, India informed Bangladesh of the Tipaimukh project. And, since the same meeting Bangladesh continuously has been asking India for data on the Tipaimukh Dam project. However, the Indian authorities did not share any study report or design on the dam. This attitude of India shows that there is no technical or scientific study detail behind the theoretically redundant project to share with all stakeholders except agenda to impose its hegemony over South Asia.

The height of the Zipingpu dam is 150 metres and total weight of filled water was 1.12 billion tonnes, thirteen times less than the proposed capacity of the Tipaimukh Dam. Above all, its sub-geological features were more stable than those of the Tipaimukh dam site. In the light of findings of Sichuan earthquake, seismic vulnerability, tectonic plate formation and the presence of geological faults, the Tipaimukh Dam is technically and financially not viable. In this scenario, pursuing a project blindly would be not only sheer waste of public money but also a potential seismic bomb for the region. The objective of a dam which is to control floods and provide hydroelectric power generation could also be achieved by adopting alternative methods.

There is no doubt that frequency and intensity of floods are on the rise in the region but its root cause is massive deforestation, compounded with rapid population growth and uncontrolled development in Brahmaputra Basin. Because of increased warming of the Himalayas, the solution to floods in the Basin lie in integrated watershed management. This would necessitate immediate afforestation to increase vegetative cover and coupled with rainwater harvesting techniques it could achieve the same objective with less investment and above all without disturbing the ecology of a fragile and fractured region. Similarly, hydro electric power could be generated by run-of-river option requiring minimal water pondage. Indian authorities need to shelve Tipaimukh dam project immediately to avert the lurking danger of a massive earthquake in the region.

Arshad H Abbasi is a visiting research fellow at the SDPI-Islamabad and conducted research on earthquake 2005 with collaboration of the University of Zurich Switzerland-Southern.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Communities Say No to India's Tipaimukh High Dam

by Dr. R.K. Ranjan Singh

The proposed Tipaimukh High Dam would dam the Barak River 500 meters downstream from the confluence of its tributary the Tuivai River in Manipur State. More than half of the 900-kilometre-long Barak falls within India; its lower half drains Bangladesh. The Barak system is the second largest drainage system in Northeast India. The entire riverine ecosystem of the Barak River Basin supports an endemic agrarian civilization thriving on biodiversity-based agro-ecological systems that have profound local and global significance.

The 163-meter-high Tipaimukh Dam will permanently submerge more than 275 sq km of land. The project is expected to have firm power generation of 412 MW. Almost none of its power will be sent to the state where the dam will be built.

There is no complete study that focuses on geo-tectonic problems or biodiversity and environment, health, socio-economic and hydrological impacts of the project. The absence of meaningful consultation with the indigenous peoples contradicts the keystone strategic priority developed by the World Commission on Dams, that no dam should be built without the demonstrable acceptance of the affected people, and without the free, prior, informed consent.

History of Resistance

Communities from Manipur have resisted Tipaimukh High Dam for more than 15 years. Resistance began because the people of Manipur had seen the devastating impact of Loktak Hydroelectric Project. This project has been the single biggest reason why local people question the new project. Any person who is aware of Loktak will tell you how it has submerged large tracts of agricultural lands; ousted large number of farmers from their livelihood without compensation, thus reducing self-sufficiency in rice production, and devastated a fragile wetland ecosystem. This has further made Manipur more economically dependent on mainland India, which is just the opposite of the promises made when the project was conceived. The people of Manipur are now fully aware that Manipur gets little electricity from the project.

The struggle against Tipaimukh is not restricted to Manipur state, but is also in Bangladesh too, where the immediate impact of the dam will be felt. The dam could also impact watersheds and ecosystems in northern Burma.

In addition, we are now waking up to the fact that two other dams in the area, Mapithel and Khuga dams, also deceived the people with promises that have not yielded any result. Now we see how wrong decisions made in the past can create havoc for our future.

Tipaimukh was not conceived and designed for the people of Manipur, or for that matter for the people of India's northeast region. It was initially designed to control floods in lower Assam, and then to generate electricity for the Indian state-owned utility NEEPCO for sale outside the region. For all these years the dam builders have not informed or consulted the people, especially those who will be directly impacted. The dam is not based on local requirements, but is imposed from above, to serve unknown economic interests. An issue of consent is a must when they want to bring in a project of such magnitude that will submerge villages, fertile agricultural land, forests, and not even meet local needs. Local organizations have also proposed alternatives, including smaller, less destructive dams.

Flawed Resettlement Plan

If constructed, the dam will have negative impacts on 9,126 sq km in the state of Manipur alone. A large number of indigenous communities, mostly belonging to the Zeliangrong and Hmar peoples, will be permanently displaced and deprived of their livelihood. One should be aware that these affected areas are almost half of the present size of Manipur. A small state like Manipur cannot afford to bargain away an area of this size for a tiny bit of electricity. We must look for alternative source of energy where it has least impact on land. We have already had 60,000 hectares of agricultural land submerged due to Ithai Dam alone. For our food security we cannot afford to lose any more land.

If one looks closely at the project's proposed resettlement and rehabilitation plan, it is clear that they have not taken into account intergenerational concerns. For example, rice fields cannot be compensated at today's market price only, as it is done by NEEPCO. For we all know that a plot of land has benefited both the generation in the past and will serve our future and cannot be assessed for the present market value only. Such shortsighted compensation will only create impoverishment and hardship for those displaced. A more important issue is the close link of indigenous peoples to their land, water, forest and their culture. Any sizeable loss of land is loss of the community itself.

As known elsewhere, dams have created or accentuated ethnic conflict. Here, too, there are already divisions along ethnic lines that can have longterm implications for all peoples. In an already fractured place such as this, it is imperative that the state does not allow projects that widen the ethnic divide. In addition, conflict with other states and also with Bangladesh as a result of the dam cannot be ruled out and will need to be addressed before agreeing to the project.

We are also aware that the construction of large dams brings in laborers from outside the region. We are witness to that the fact that outsiders have come to work for Loktak hydro project and other dams, and that these workers have stayed after the work is done, putting pressure on local communities and natural resources. A massive project like Tipaimukh will bring in more than 30,000 workers from outside and it is certain that these outsiders will cause issues for local people.

The site selected for Tipaimukh project is one of the most seismically active in the entire world, recording at least two major earthquakes of 8+ on the Richter scale during the past 50 years. The proposed dam site falls on an active fault line. Several large earthquakes have been recorded near the Tipaimukh site.

The people who have fought the dam have used all democratic means possible to seek the government of India to stop the dam. Memorandums and letters by the score, rallies, sit-in protests, blockades, strikes, press releases, meetings, leaflets, and email campaigns have all been used. Five public hearings conducted by the government have been boycotted. But these all went into the dustbin of the government. One wonders what it would take for the government to listen to the people, and stop the dam. We must insist that Tipaimukh is not an answer to the energy crisis that we presently face. If the government is sincere enough to solve this crisis then it must right away say no to this destructive project, and initiate a people-inclusive

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bangladesh and India: Will the Dams “Damage “the Relationship?

Environmentalists and academics called for greater movement nationally and internationally to resist what he called "the conspiracy to India to" build the dam without Tipaimukh share information with Bangladesh. They also criticized the role of government in its relations with India on water issues. India has neither the flow of water in the Ganges guaranteed by the Treaty of the Ganges, or the information shared in the Tipaimukh dam, which is a pure violation of the treaty.

Protests at the Farakka Barrage, first in 1965 led to war between India and Pakistan, but in 1975, Bangladesh, in good faith, agreed that his friend, India "test-run", its channel food for fourteen days. India, Bangladesh to ensure that the actual operation will start after an agreement was signed outlining the terms of the transaction and the amount of water. The rest is a history of noncompliance of India, causing desertification in many rivers in Bangladesh. Then go to India to build the dam Tipaimukh ignoring the protests in Manipur and Bangladesh, because it threatens the north-eastern section of the country.

Not so, faith and friendship, to be compromised? So why India is so obsessed with their dam projects? In April 2001, David Barsamian, director of Alternative Radio in Boulder, Colorado Arundhati Roy interviewed and this is what he said, "the myth of big dams is something that is sold from the time they are three years in any book of school text.

Nehru said: "Dams are the temples of modern India", the dam will serve breakfast in bed, he will marry his daughter and the healing of his jaundice. People must understand that they are only monuments to political corruption, and shoot the very undemocratic political institutions. Only centralize natural resources, to grab people, and then decide that you will get.

When I wrote "The Greater Common Good", what shocks me more than the numbers there are numbers that do not exist. The Indian government has no estimate of how many people have been displaced by large dams. The reason there are no such figures is that most people are still non-displaced people, the Adivasis and Dalits. India will not cut his people. It kills people who refuse to move. He's just waiting it out.

She continues to do what you have to do and ignore the consequences. Due to the caste system, due to the fact that there is no social bond between those who make decisions and those who suffer the decisions, just go ahead and do what they want.

People also assume that is their fate, karma, what was written. It's all an effective way of doing things. Therefore, India has a very good reputation in the world as a democracy as a government that cares, that is simply too much in their hands, whereas, in fact, create real problems. "- (www. progressive. Org).

The book is a revelation for people to understand the system in India, corruption, the link with the World Bank funds atrocious and the international community that is undertaking projects to rob the poor to give to the rich. Tipaimukh dam is no exception to this system. Now I would like to present an example of how the arrogant attitude of "government" against a requirement of the "governed" violence begets.

The terrorism of the first water Kunta Lahiri-Dutt and Robert J. Wasson has a chapter on regional policy water distribution written by Douglas Hill. In 1976, the central government of India has taken a decision to adjust the amount of water must be available for each state. Buenos Aires disagreed and filed a case before the Supreme Court cast doubt on its validity.

Meanwhile, the construction of 112 km Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal began in 1982 to divert water to farmers in Rajasthan and Haryana in the south (khurana2006). Construction was immediately rejected by the Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD). Section SAD protest finally returned to the violent riots and terrorism, culminating in the events of 0peration Blue Star in Amritsar in 1984 (when Indira Gandhi had ordered the slaughter of hundreds of Sikh separists) and probably led to his assassination in 0ctober.

The new Prime Minister Rajib Gandhi and Akali Dal leader Singh Longowal Harcha met in 1985, established a tribunal under Justice Eradi reconsider the appropriate allocation of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. The results of this court has been questioned by the Punjab in 1987, arguing that enough water to cover the recommended allocation was not available.

The violence has forced the closure of this court in 1988 and the construction of the section of Punjab SYL canal ceased in 1990. public hearing in 1997 and reinstated the decision in favor of Haryana, in 2004. The political crisis and the Punjab Government has adopted a law that supersedes all previous agreements regarding the sharing of Ravi and Beas (khurana2006) - (COM Google.) India have a lesson from Governments? works closely with the "mother" of the system to do its dirty work. Chetan Bagat in his book "The 3 mistakes in my life" describes "Mama", an ambitious, but all premises to climb the ladder of "Power".

He asks his political guru to get a ticket for the election. Guru's mother reported that ambitious people like him are held in the party and how good he is and has committed (Mama) to reach the next level, should do work that was focused on him. Mamas India ", as for operations.

Mamas, on behalf of India, bribed officials to make the temporary regulation with promises that 10-12% of electricity will be given free and the rest will be given to NEEPCO for distribution to other states. Do other states do not require the same treatment? Along with the concerns of the citizens "of the dam and Development (CESD) and environmentalists do not worry about this temporary settlement and continue with the protest and whether Marxist and Maoist insurgents have joined there is a strong possibility that the protests could become violent agitation.

How India contain this violence? What would world reaction to this? Bangladesh will be under pressure to help India? And now Bangladesh. India without the moral support of Bangladesh military and then the Soviet Union (Russia) could not have seen the Liberation War. During the liberation of India was targeted to help groups of the Awami League (Mama factor) while other political groups have worked together to achieve the common goal of independence. The former foreign secretary, the late Mr. JN Dixit in his remarks to the Foreign Affairs Committee, said: "We helped in the liberation of Bangladesh on mutual interest, which was not a favor.

He said that 90% of the problems could be resolved if Bangladesh has exported gas to India. Subsequently, India made a list of other articles, at the request of Bangladesh. Friendship is an ordeal. In addition, (1) India is ignoring paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Dublin Principles, 1992. paragraph 2, provides for the development and management of water should be based on a participatory approach involving all users, planners and policy makers and Article 3 states that women play a key role in the provision, management and water protection. (2) India has never accepted the proposal to discuss with Nepal to resolve the problems in Bangladesh because of Farakka Dam. Why India is acting so mysteriously?

The Bangladesh team, Parliament was invited to visit Manipur be able to find solutions? The correct answer is NO. In the absence of full details of India and the Agency for financing and subsequent analysis by local experts from the three countries, free from political influence, the team would not be capable of distinguishing the controversial points.

Instead, it is feared that the name of Bangladesh being used politically to pressure Manipur and Mizoram. What is the solution? Here are my responses in four steps: (1) Advocate Harun ur Rashid start building Pangsha Ganges Dam (90 miles west of Dhaka) to offset the negative effects of the dam Farraka. (Ref: Daily Star, 31 May 2008).

It was conceived in 1963 and again in 1984 and after the feasibility report of 1997, the river of the Mixed Commission has approved. Immediate steps should be taken to implement the following expert from Bangladesh should conduct another study to build another similar dam in the region of Sylhet to offset the effect Tipaimukh dam. Only after reaching an agreement with India for the construction of two dams, if our government intends to cooperate with India. (2) Dr. Aiun Nishat suggests that positive politics, mutual understanding and the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh should be involved. (Ref: NewAge Xtra June 12.2009). (3) In the three states, the participation of women must be ensured and that their views recorded and taken into consideration. (4) fully support the suggestions, not from Bangladesh residing in Los Angeles, sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through the consul general, it is recommended that a team of five countries to be trained: Bangladesh, India, China, Nepal and Myanmar to find the correct solution (. Ref: zshare. memorandum to Sheikh Hasina net/audio/616901121db0d245/Huda reading).

Regardless of the Conference of NAM, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh confirmed to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that India did not take any action that might affect the relationship. Earlier in an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said: "I sincerely believe that a strong and prosperous Bangladesh is in the fundamental interests of India." (Ref.: Daily Star, Nov. 15.2005). Leave the Honorable Prime Minister to demonstrate his intentions. Sonia Gandhi would be great if it also has a keen interest and joined Mr. Singh in this adventure. I think in Bangladesh India's relations improved.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

21 Tipai Dam protesters held in Manipur

Staff Reporter

At least twenty-one social workers who have been waging movement against the construction of Tipaimukh Dam have been arrested in "false cases", it is alleged. Some organisations in Manipur have alleged that the arrested persons are being tortured in custody, according to BBC monitored yesterday evening.

BBC Kolkata correspondent says, these protesters were involved in anti-Tipaimukh dam movement and movement against false encounter. Many leaders of the anti-Tipaimukh Dam project have gone into hiding to avert arrest. Police say various cases, including treason under the Indian Penal Code have been filed against them.

Some Civil Society Leaders told the BBC that local leaders including Jiten Bikramjit have been arrested, with a view to destroying the anti-Tipaimukh Dam movement.

Leaders of anti-Tipaimukh Dam movement have sent protest letters to international forums.

A protest meeting was held yesterday in Imphal, capital of Manipur where effigies of the state chief minister, Indian prime minister and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were burned.

Another protest meeting is due to be held in New Delhi today (Thursday).


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tipaimukh water bomb a curse for Barak-Surma basin

Faisal Rahim

When the Indian environmental activist groups in the states of Assam and Monipur are fighting back terming the Tipaimukh dam project a 'water bomb' sure be a "living curse for the inhabitants of the Barak-Surma basin", Bangladesh's ministers and policy makers are describing it as even beneficial to the nation.

The Bangladesh parliamentary team that visited Tipaimukh dam site early this month gave a clean certificate to the Indian government's move on the dam issue saying that the Indian government ministers have given them assurance that Delhi would not do anything harmful to Bangladesh.

The team leader Abdur Razzak MP praised the Indian government for sharing "important" documents that were not made available earlier. He pointed out that all available data and information suggest that the dam construction is all but a fight in the air.

"India isn't building dam"!

"Moreover no construction was visible in the site from the aerial view that suggests India is not building the dam", he said.

Some government ministers are even making statements saying the dam may be beneficial to Bangladesh and hence people here should ignore the opposition parties' call to create public awareness about it and fight back the issue locally and in international forum.

But the latest news report tells different stories. A report in a national daily last week said Indian government has passed the responsibility of building the dam to its Eastern army command.

Army to construct

The report detailed which military wing is working on implementing the project, which one worked on the design, which army unit is providing security to the dam site. It also named the military authorities which supervised an ecological survey to determine the extent of damage and geo-physical change that the dam may hit in the region.

The report further said that a high power meeting of Indian military and civil bureaucracy was held in Delhi on June 20 last to coordinate the activities relating to the dam project and evolving strategy on how to run public relations campaigns to counter protest against the dam which is increasingly growing in the Indian northeast and also in Bangladesh.

On the public campaign issue, the meeting left it with a special group to mobilize the civil society organizations both in India and Bangladesh to the support of the mega project.

Bangladesh govt.'s weakness

The recent visit of six editors of national dailies from Dhaka to Delhi may be viewed from that background.

The Delhi meeting also underlined the fact that since India has a friendly government in place now in Dhaka, it should take immediate steps to begin construction of the dam to exploit the weakness of the Bangladesh government and the silence of its front line organizations.

This is one side of the story which tells how the Indian government is blackmailing its friends in Dhaka in one hand and mobilizing the project under the supervision of its Eastern Army Command on the other.

News report said the ecological report on the dam which the Indian army has prepared, said that a total of 288.60 sq kilometers area would go under water in the Borak valley following the construction of the dam.

Crippling impact on Bangladesh

The Indian local environmental activist groups are therefore opposed to the dam as it is becoming a looming threat to the existence of local communities and their livelihood although big capitals and construction companies will benefit from it as also the Indian geo-politics will emerge as a winner on its close neighbour Bangladesh having crippling environmental impacts on its agriculture and environment.

Indian local environmental groups say they can not sit idle because of its hazardous impact on them and sought the cooperation of Bangladesh on the issue. The Silchar-based Society of Activists & Volunteers for Environment (SAVE) recently presented a memorandum opposing the construction of the Tipaimukh dam to Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata. The memorandum dwelt on the devastating environmental impact of the dam on downstream Borak basin in general and Bara Valley in particular which also include areas covering Bangladesh.

The memorandum was originally addressed to the Bangladesh parliamentary team that visited the project site but failed to land in the area because of bad weather. So the organizers pushed the memorandum to its leader through the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata.

Dr. Parthankar Choudhury, President of SAVE and its secretary Pijush Kanti Das in the memorandum drew the attention of the Bangladesh parliamentary team to the looming danger from the proposed dam. They expressed their deep concern about the impact of the dam in the upstream of the Barak river. They termed it a 'water bomb' at Tipaimukh and said people in the region are resisting the move holding growing protests at various level and places. They said such protests are taking place in Manipur and in the Barak Valley of Assam, besides lot such protest in Bangladesh.

SAVE's demand

They said all such actions should be purely viewed from environmental and human points and those who want to ignore it should be dealt with severely. The memorandum said the SAVE people belong to the school of thought which "think globally and act locally" and sought to work jointly with Bangladesh in facing the disaster.

The SAVE leaders emphasised the need for an extensive downstream environmental impact study from the proposed dam site up to the sea-mouth to be jointly conducted at the initiative of the Government of India and Bangladesh.

Experts on the study group need to be hired from NGOs, particularly from the environmental outfits, IITs and universities to independently assess its possible detrimental impact on the environment and life of inhabitants in the catchments areas. They said, without downstream impact study, if a clean chit to the project is given, it would be detrimental for both environment and people at large; and the struggling people of both in India and Bangladesh in particular.

They said the proposed dam falls at the confluence of Indo-Burma, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese biodiversity hotspot zone. These areas are characterized by the presence of a large number of plant and animal species, many of which are not seen or seldom witnessed in the rest of the world.

A large number of them have been categorized as endangered and threatened as the IUCN Red Data book and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Once the dam is constructed, these innocent endangered and threatened species would have no other alternative, but to perish.

Earthquake Zone-V

They said SAVE strongly believes that this rock-filled 500 metres long and 162.8 metres high dam to be constructed at the Earthquake Zone-V will become a constant threat to survival of people in the region. It will have constant pressure of water and if for any reason cracks open, the entire civilization of the whole of downstream region will be washed down in no time. The age-old Barak-Surma culture will live in history only. They pondered the question: Can any force or technology prevent this and ensure safety against such catastrophic mishap?

Impact on agriculture

The memorandum further dwelt on the important impact of the dam on water scarcity, crop cultivation, navigation, siltation, ecological imbalance, river pollution, extinction of aquatic life forms and the like and said these are no less important frontier areas that deserve careful and serious attention.

It urged the Bangladesh parliamentary delegation to strongly oppose the dam keeping in view all those things from a purely pro-environment and pro-human viewpoints. The Tipaimukh dam is going to be the lifetime curse for the inhabitants of Barak-Surma basin, they said pointing to the need for resisting it at all cost.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hydel Projects: The New Battle Ground

Sobhapati Samom

In a move to meet the growing demand of power supply in the country, the central authority continues to build mega dams in Northeastern states to generate more power despite the opposition and continuous protest from the locals.

Though the authority is yet to finalise the time frame for the construction of the controversial 1500 MW Tipaimukh multipurpose project in Manipur, state-owned National Hydro-electric Power Corporation, NHPC takes up construction work of South East Asia’s biggest hydel power project 2000 MW ‘Lower Subansiri hydel project’ in a contentious area of Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

However, the project has been facing constant criticism because it is ignoring the ‘downstream social life’ in Assam as well as the upstream ‘environmental effects’ in Arunachal Pradesh.

Namani Subansiri Jalavidyut Prakalpa Birodhi Okya Mancha, a united body of more than thirty organisations of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Sonitpur and Jorhat districts (Majuli sub-division) opposing the project, made it clear that the dam in Gerukamukh is going to be a huge water bomb ready to burst upon the people living in the downstream areas.

The united body’s Kiran Deori has expressed strong resentment about the fallout of the mega dam project in the downstream areas of the Subansiri river in Assam covering three districts and called for the immediate halt of the on-going construction work at the dam site till all clearances required for the protection of the ecological and topographical concerns of the downstream areas are addressed.
If this is ignored, the front will launched various forms of agitations to stop the construction process, functionaries of the front told a visiting journalists team recently.

Keshav Krishna Chatradhar of Alliance Against Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Power Project, AKYAMNCHA, a local resistance group in Assam said, “There’s no downstream study by NHPC or the implementing agencies. So they should stop construction works immediately.”

On the other hand, All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union has been demanding a ‘white paper’ on the upcoming mega dams in the state. Reports said that the Prime Minister of India launched the 50,000 MW Hydroelectric Initiative to fast track hydropower development in the country in May 2003. This initiative proposes to bring on line installed capacity of about 50,000 MW through 162 projects in 16 states by 2017. While 72 out of 162 schemes totaling up to 31,885 MW are in the North East, Arunachal Pradesh alone has 42 schemes with 27,293 MW capacity. It is of little wonder then that Arunachal Pradesh has emerged as the new centre of massive dam building in the country.

“We’re demanding a white paper on these mega dams. We’ve given an ultimatum to the Chief Minister in this regard,” Takam Tatung,President AAPSU said. “We will launch a democratic movement if the government fails to meet our demands within the next month.”

In Manipur, many NGOs and environmentalists have been criticizing the government’s move to construct the Rs 6000 crore worth Tipaimukh hydro-electric project confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers on the grounds that it would seriously affect agricultural land, local flora and fauna, not to mention the displacement of people and livestock.

The project site at Tipaimukh, located 200 km upstream of Barak River from the Bangladesh border, is high on the talks agenda as environmentalists express deep concern because if the 162 meter high dam is constructed, it could deprive Bangladesh of its share of project on downstream impact.

Chief Engineer Choudhury said, “We will moderate the flood situation as the project is going to sacrifice more than 330 MU of electricity generation for the sake of flood moderation by operating the reservoir 15 meters below FRL (full reservoir level).”

However, the actual construction of the dam will begin this year as the American engineering company; involved in the world’s biggest hydel project-the three gorge dam of China-is being commissioned for the project. Similarly the construction of Tipaimukh dam in Manipur will take time until the JVC (joint venture company) is formed, Uday Sangker Sahi, concerned NHPC Chief Engineer (Civil) told this reporter.

Though the Centre had appointed NHPC as the implementing agency for the project, it will now be a joint venture between NHPC (69 per cent), Shimla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (26 per cent) and Manipur Government (5 per cent), the engineer informed.

Barak Dam in the vortex of controversy

Jyoti Lal Chowdhury

The controversial Tipaimukh Multipurpose Hydel Project is once again the centre stage of news. Besides facing opposition in Manipur, it has also been protested against by socio-political bodies in Bangladesh. On August 11, 5000 Bangladeshi protesters belonging to Tipaimukh Dam Resistance Committee and Sylhet Division Unnayan Sangram Committee joined by leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamat-e-Islami organised a mass gathering at Jakiganj opposite Karimganj town and criticised the Indian decision to build the dam. “Bangladesh will suffer huge economic and environmental losses if the Tipaimukh Dam comes up”, said Jamat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami. Their much hyped long march to the dam site was foiled by the Bangladesh Rifles.

In Manipur, Citizens’ Concern for Dam and Development, a conglomerate of 34 organisations, has been agitating against the construction of the project.

The agitation is being backed by Committee on Land and Natural Resources, Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project, United Naga Council, Naga Women Union, All Naga Students’ Association and Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights. Hmar People’s Conference (D), underground outfit, issued a press statement cautioning against any construction work to build up the infrastructure of the dam.

Notwithstanding the wave of opposition, the MoU was signed between the three states of Manipur, Assam and Mizoram a decade back. The Ministry of Home Affairs agreed to security arrangement and the Ministry of Road Surface Transport to take action for the improvement of NH 53 and NH 150 for easy access to the dam site. The Planning Commission gave its nod for the allocation of Rs.20 crore for the project during 2000-01 for infrastructure build up. The project was to be included in the 9th Plan. Mooted in the 70’s, its estimated cost has gone up from Rs.1500 crore to more than Rs.6000 crore. The centre approved a rehabilitation package for 350 tribal families to be affected due to submergence.

The project is to be built on river Barak. The site is in the remote village of Tipaimukh in Churachandpur district, bordering Mizoram. The project is designed to contain flood waters in Barak Valley, generate 1500 MW of power, facilitate irrigation and pisciculture.

Anti-dam activists fear the dam, if built, would disturb the seasonal rhythm of the river with adverse effects on downstream agriculture and fisheries. It will also affect two rivers of Bangladesh, 100 km away from Tipaimukh, Surma and Kushiara. River Barak at Haritikar in Cachar close to the border bifurcates into Surma and Kushiara before entering Sylhet district.

They also argue that the mega They also argue that the mega project with a catchment area of 9126 in Manipur alone would submerge over 90 villages, besides inundating a vast chunk of forest and agricultural land as well as destroy tribal and folklore interests and diverse flora and fauna. With heat and dust around, the foundation stone of the dam was laid on December 16, 2006 by the then Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at Tipaimukh under a blanket boycott call by different organisations.

Significantly, China has advised a dialogue between India and Bangladesh over the issue. China’s interest arises out of India’s objection to its decision to divert Yarlung Tsangpo, known as Brahamaputra in Assam, by building a dam over the river in Tibet. The Indian apprehension was that such a move by Beijing would greatly affect the river system of the North East, thereby the ecology and economy. Egged on by China, the Bangladeshi campaign against Barak dam has got a new dimension, making it an international issue.

In the context of these apprehensions being aired by different quarters, it would be quite relevant to examine certain records and observations for a fair and objective appraisal of the project. North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (NERCPC) in its meeting held in May, 1999 at Imphal stressed on the need to constitute the Barak Valley Authority for the implementation of the project on the pattern of Narmada Central Authority. NERCPC, in this context, referred to the three consecutive meetings of the Chief Secretaries of Assam, Manipur and Mizoram which reached a sort of consensus to thrash out misgivings and take positive steps for clearing the hurdles.

The Manipur government, after being briefed by the Brahamaputra Board on the project constituted two committees under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary in details all aspects for moving ahead as recorded in the minutes of the first meeting of the technical committee on April 10, 1999 at the Brahamaputra Board Complex, Guwahati. After receiving the detailed project report from NEEPCO, the executive agency, state government of Manipur entered into a MoU on January 31, 2001. The MoU was facilitated with the annulment of Manipur State Assembly resolution unanimously in 2000.

Experts in the Brahamaputra Board and Ministry of Water Resources pointed out that the 16.80 lakh cusec capacity reservoir of the dam will not only control floods but also release enough water during the lean season through Barak and its tributaries-Surma and Kushiara. Besides this, the nod of the Manipur government followed the meeting of a 5 member Parliamentary standing committee on energy under the Chairmanship of Santosh Mohan Dev on February 10, 2001 at Silchar. Additional Chief Secretary of Manipur P.L. Thanga who attended the meet gave the seal of approval of his government.

In fact, once the project is commissioned, the North East region as a whole will benefit as it will substantially meet the power needs of the area. Manipur and Mizoram will get 12 percent free power. It will, at the same time, give a boost to fisheries, tourism and accelerate the economic development of the area. The Ministry of Water Resources has agreed to provide 220 KV transmission line to Imphal along with step down substation. Experts opine that the dam site does not fall in the seismic zone. Moreover, since the three states concerned after protracted discussions have agreed on the project, there is no reason to keep it in abeyance on grounds which look more far-fetched than reasoned.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

India, Bangladesh to jointly combat terror, discuss Tipaimukh dam

NEW DELHI - India Tuesday allayed Bangladesh’s concerns over the contentious Tipaimukh dam and hydroelectric project while the neighbours agreed to step up cooperation to combat terrorism and bridge differences on trade and transit issues.

With their relations on an upward curve after a protracted period of drift, the two countries also tried to narrow differences on illegal migration, cross-border infiltration and sharing of river waters.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna held wide-ranging talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Dipu Moni and pressed for closer cooperation in combating terrorism, and emphasised the need for intelligence sharing and closer coordination.

The talks lasted over two hours and included a one-to-one interaction between the two ministers for 10 minutes.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao was also present at the delegation-level talks. The Bangladeshi delegation included Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes, Bangladesh High Commissioner Tarique Ahmed Karim and Mohammad Imran, director general (South Asia).

Moni, who is on her first official visit to India after Sheikh Hasina came to power eight months ago, assured Krishna that Dhaka was keen to jointly combat terrorism and address New Delhi’s concerns about insurgents allegedly operating from the Bangladeshi territory.

Krishna renewed New Delhi’s request to Dhaka to deport anti-India insurgents - like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leader Anup Chetia - who are said to be living in Bangladesh.

The contentious Tipaimukh project located near the confluence of the Barak and Tuivai rivers in Manipur also figured prominently in the discussions.

Krishna assured Moni that the proposed dam was mutually beneficial and did not involve any diversion of water, as alleged by some sections of the political establishment in Bangladesh.

Moni Tuesday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed an entire gamut of bilateral and regional issues. Manmohan Singh renewed his invitation to Sheikh Hasina to visit India later this year.

Trade and transit issues came up for discussion when Moni met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The two ministers discussed ways to bridge trade deficit and improve road and air connectivity that could give a big push to economic engagement between the two countries.

Mukherjee pushed for transit rights for goods through Bangladesh to the northeast, a long-pending issue between the two countries.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

National unity against Tipai Dam stressed

Staff Reporter

Speakers at a discussion yesterday laid emphasis on greater national unity among political parties and civil societies to resist India's move to construct the Tipaimukh dam.

They also called upon the government and the opposition to discuss the Tipaimukh dam issue in the parliament.

The government is yet to take the Tipaimukh dam as national issue rather than political one and it needs to demonstrate rightly on the issue, they observed.

They said that a national consensus is needed to resist India from constructing the dam since it will bring a disastrous effect on the country's economy and environment.

Their observation came at a roundtable on 'Tipaimukh Dam: Overall Impact on Bangladesh' at a local hotel in the city. The Centre for Human Rights organised the function.

Barrister Abdur Razzaq, general secretary of CHR moderated and Justice Mahmudul Amin Choudhury, former chief justice presided over the programme.

Speakers also emphasised the need for a joint impact assessment by India and Bangladesh about the Tipaimukh Dam.

They also suggested the government to go for a third party mediation regarding the Tipaimukh issue.

Former VC's of Dhaka University (DU) Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said SAARC should be compelled to resolve the issues among the countries of South Asia.

M Asafuddowlah, former secretary called upon all to be united and suggested the issue should be discussed in the parliament.

He strongly criticised the government for its reluctance about the Tipaimukh Dam and said it was not understandable to him why the present government was so silent.

"Is this part of their gratitude to India for bringing them to power or gratitude for helping us during the Liberation War?" he questioned. "Given the track record of India, there is no reason to believe them."

Professor Muzaffer Ahmed, president of TIB stressed the need for forging a national consensus and stronger diplomacy regarding the matter.

"Indian government violated various international laws and treaties since they moved ahead with its plan to construct the Tipaimukh Dam," he mentioned.

Mostafa Kamal Majumder said if India constructs the Tipaimukh dam, it will bring a great catastrophe than Farakka barrage to the country's economy and environment.

Rouf Chowdhury, director of FBCCI said Bangladesh's weak foreign policy has prompted India to undertake a project like Tipaimukh Dam. "All governments after 1997 are responsible for the Indian plan to construct such a dam," he added.

The river Meghna will lose its navigability by 5 meters if the Tipaimukh dam is constructed. "Thirty percent of Bangladesh will turn into a desert in 30 years if the dam is constructed," said Dr SI Khan, a former environment management planner of the United Nations.

Prof Moniruzzaman Miah, former VC of DU, Abul Hasan Chowdhury, former state minister for foreign affarirs, Alamgir Mohiuddin, editor of the daily Naya Diganta, Prof Asif Nazrul of DU, Engineer ANH Akhtar Hossain, honorary general secretary of Institute of Engineering, Bangladesh (IEB), Prof Mahbubullah of DU, journalist Mahfuzzullah, Shamser Mobin Chowdhury, former foreign secretary, M Mahmudur Rahman, editor of the daily Amar Desh, Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Prof Mohammad Abdur Rab and Prof UAB Razia Akter Banu of DU among others, spoke on the occasion.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tipaumukh, trade, transit to top India-Bangladesh talks

IANS, September 4th, 2009, NEW DELHI

India is keen to bridge differences with Bangladesh over sensitive issues like the Tipakimukh hydrolectric project and move ahead on trade and transit as Foreign Minister Dipu Moni arrives here Monday on a four-day trip, ahead of Sheikh Hasina’s visit here later this year.

This will be Moni’s first official visit to New Delhi after Sheikh Hasina rode to power in Dhaka on the strength of landslide victory in December polls last year.

Moni will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and also call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She will discuss an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including security, cooperation in combating terrorism, illegal migration, trade and investment.

The two sides are likely to focus on enhancing connectivity and giving a fresh momentum to expanding economic engagement that would help in reducing trust deficit to resolve more complex issues like border management, infiltration and illegal migration and terrorism.

The contentious Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Dam Project will also figure prominently in the discussions. Located near the confluence of the Barak and Tuivai rivers in Manipur, the project has become a rallying point for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to stoke anti-India sentiments.

Some sections in Bangladesh fear that the dam will deprive their country of its rightful share of water. Ahead of Moni’s visit, official sources said here Friday that they have made it clear that there will be absolutely no diversion of water. They also pointed out there was no construction activity going on and the dam will augment water during the rainy season and decrease the prospects of flooding.

These points were made to a team of parliamentarians who visited the dam site last month. India has shared pertinent data with Bangladesh and stressed that the project will be beneficial to both countries. Moni’s visit will provide a good opportunity to remove any misgivings over the project.

India will also emphasise need to jointly combat terrorism and press Dhaka to deport anti-India insurgents like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) chief Anup Chetia who are said to be in Bangladesh. New Delhi is optimistic that the Sheikh Hasina government will take requisite action in this regard.

Moni’s trip comes at a time when India’s relationship with Bangladesh, dogged by years of mistrust over Dhaka’s alleged patronage of anti-India insurgents and widening trade deficit, is showing signs of improvement.

During then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Dhaka in February 2009, India took significant unilateral initiatives like providing duty-free access to eight million pieces of ready garments, lifting a ban on FDI in Bangladesh and duty-free access to several items from Bangladesh.

India also signed a bilateral trade treaty and another one on the protection of investments. Put together, these initiatives have set the stage for a new positive period of trust and cooperation between the two neighbours.