Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Construction of Tipaimukh Dam and Lessons from the Farraka, Teesta & other Dams/Barrages in India, and Darmot Dam in Oregon, USA.

By Meer Husain, USA.

In the geo-political context of Bangladesh, the construction of dams in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India in the upstream territory of India was a grave mistake because it has since created numerous man-made environmental disasters and economic and social crisis. The people of Bangladesh and India have experienced numerous environmental disasters for about four decades due India's construction of dams/barrages in the Ganges, Teesta and other common rivers of Bangladesh and India.

Prior to 1975 before the construction and commission of the Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages, the magnitude of the problems listed below were limited. These are the results of the harvesting of river water and over pumping of groundwater. The over pumping of groundwater in Bangladesh occurred due to lack of surface water during dry season during the last four decades.

1. Groundwater Arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh

2. Severe Floods(1988 and 1998)

3. Depletion of Surface Water Resources

4. Depletion of Groundwater Resources

5. Desertification

6. Extinction of aquatic species.

7. Impact on fish industry

8. Impact on other water based Industries.

9. Drop of organic matter content in the soil.

10. Destruction of Agriculture and Horticulture

11. Inland saline water intrusion

12. Loss of navigable waterways

13. Riverbank erosion

14. Excessive Siltation

15. Land subsidence(from lowering of water table)

16. Climate change

17. Loss of professions

18. Outbreak of environmental diseases

19. Migration and Poverty

20. Social Unstability

These are the major problems that are dragging the country of Bangladesh into severe environmental and economic crises and if these problems are not solved through environmentally friendly measures, the Bangladeshi nation will be crippled in all respect due to these dams/barrages. This leaves two critical questions that must be answered by both the governments of Bangladesh and India before the construction of Tipaimukh and other dams in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India.

1. Are the above mentioned problems directly related to Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages that India constructed in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India? The answer is yes.

2. Can the govt. of India present sound scientific data and evidence disproving the above mentioned problems that were created due to India's unilateral diversion of river waters from the common rivers of Bangladesh and India? The answer is no.

If the govt. of India is not capable of presenting sound data and evidence in opposition to the above mentioned problems which are the results of Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages, then how can the govt. of India say that the construction of the Tipaimukh dam would not cause any damage to the water resources, agriculture, ecosystem and environment of Bangladesh?

If the govt. of India desires a true and lasting friendship with Bangladesh including enviornmental and economic cooperation, then the govt. of India should throughly study and analyze the impact of these dams/barrages in Bangladesh and take the immediate necessary steps to solve these problems. The govt. of Bangladesh should invite Indian scholars, scientists and journalists to examine these problems based on factual data and evidence. During the dry season, they should additionally be given tours in the impacted areas in Bangladesh in order to explore the impacts of these dams/barrages. This will help the Indian govt. decide whether they should further proceed with Tipaimukh and other harmful projects in the future. The Tipaimukh dam will certainly destroy the ecosystem and environment of a vast area of the Surma and Meghna Basins. Should the govt. and the people of Bangladesh accept and support such a harmful project when the govt. of India has failed to keep their promise of equally sharing water supplies with Bangladesh for the last four decades?

We think both Bangladesh and India should work together to maintain a healthy environment, especially being faced with the same environmental crises. The govt. of India should immediately take the necessary measures to solve the problems created in Bangladesh due to India's unilateral diversion of river water from the Ganges, Teesta and other common rivers in Bangladesh and India. Indian scholars, scientists, journalists, politicians and policymakers should address these problems of Bangladesh (created by Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages) seriously, because India has a moral obligation to aid their geographical neighbor and would benefit from maintaining a long lasting relationship with the densely populated Bangladesh.

Those politicians, policymakers, scientists and engineers who claim that the Tipaimukh dam would not do any harm in Bangladesh are mistaken and their claims lack factual data. In the past, they were wrong regarding the impacts of Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages and we do not think they currently have any factual data in support of their claims. The construction of the Tipaimukh dam would do more harm than good to Bangladesh. We would request that the promoters of the Tipaimukh dam and the people of Bangladesh as well as India, watch and review the video of the Darmot dam removal in Oregon, USA at: http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/videos/view/73-Marmot-Dam .

This video will explain the negative implications of the Tipaimukh dam in Bangladesh and adjacent states of India, and it will also help the govt. of India abandon the project. We strongly believe that in order to maintain a healthy environment and proper friendship with Bangladesh, the govt. of India should take initiatives for solving the problems created by Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages. India's unwise commitment to building dams/barrages in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India is responsible for the creation of these problems.


2006, Husain and Bridge, Understanding the causes of and permanent solution to the Groundwater arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh.

2002, Husain, Age of the groundwater Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh.

1999, Bridge and Husain, The Increased Draw Down And Recharge in Groundwater Aquifers And Their Relationship to the Arsenic Problem in Bangladesh.

2000, Oxyhydroxide Reduction and Agrochemical Hypotheses: Myth or Reality?

2000, Bridge and Husain, Groundwater Arsenic Poisoning and a Solution to the Arsenic Disaster in Bangladesh.

Meer Husain, P.G.
Environmental Geologist
WATC International Arsenic, Water, Ecosystem and Environment Research Center
Wichita, Kansas, USA.
E Mail : matribhumi_bd@yahoo.com

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