Thursday, June 4, 2009

'India dam will create regional chaos'

Thu, Jun 4th, 2009 12:51 am BdST Dial 2324 from your mobile for latest news

Dhaka, June 3 (—Bangladesh and India will face instability if the latter goes ahead with its construction of Tiapaimukh dam and other proposed hydropower projects in the region, said the head of an environmental forum on Wednesday.

"India is planning to generate around 50,000 megawatts electricity by building dams across 48 different rivers in its seven northeastern states," said Mozaffar Ahmad, president of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA).

"They aim to export power," he said. "But the entire region will face chaos with the construction of dams across the rivers."

Speaking to reporters at a round table on Climate Change and People, Mozaffar said: "The rivers of Bangladesh will dry up during winter and overflow during the monsoon with the construction of Tipaimukh dam."

The former president of Transparency International Bangladesh stressed the need for raising public awareness about the negative environmental impacts.

Referring also to infiltration by Indian separatists into Bangladesh territory in the past, he said," We will also fall into a volatile socio-political crisis if the proposed dam is constructed."

He said, BAPA would launch a movement against the Tipaimukh dam.

Citing the example of displaced people during the construction of the Kaptai dam for power generation in Bangladesh, he said: "Similarly, the people of northeastern India are also protesting against the construction of the Tipaimukh dam."

Indians against it too

The Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Project (ACTIP) in India comprises academics, politicians, students and around 20 influential socio-political organisations.

They fear the dam will bring more miseries than benefit to most people and severe damage to the environment.

The project will be one of the largest hydroelectric projects in eastern India to date and will be located 500 metres downstream of the confluence of the Tuivai and Barak rivers in Monipur, near the Mizoram border.

'India won't hold back water

Meanwhile, Indian high commissioner to Dhaka, Pinak Ranjan Chakrabarti, said Wednesday that although India will have sole control over water flow at the proposed dam site, it will not hold it back.

The flow of river water and flood control will remain in the hands of India, he told reporters after a courtesy call with communications minister Syed Abul Hossain at the ministry.

But, he said, Tipaimukh dam is a hydro-electric project that will generate electricity from the flow of water, and then will release the water back.

India expects to generate around 1500 megawatts of hydropower from the project, which concerns many in Bangladesh as three rivers—the Surma, Kushiara and the mighty Meghna—lie downstream of the proposed dam.

Experts say it will reduce the natural monsoon flood patterns of the Sylhet region adversely affecting cultivation and livelihoods in the area on a vast scale.

They also fear India could hold up water flow during the dry season.

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