Saturday, June 20, 2009

Many people are trying to reap political gains: Muhith

Dhaka, June 19: Many people are trying to reap political gains from the so-called Tipaimukh Dam movement, the finance minister AMA Muhith has alleged.

Speaking at National Tipaimukh Dam Conference 2009 at the auditorium of Institution of Engineers, Banglaesh in the capital on Friday, he proposed a regional forum based on river basin to resolve crisis involving river.

Muhith said three things should be kept in mind while constructing Tipaimukh Dam-– whether biodiversity will be affected, whether the risk of an earthquake will increase because of a big dam and whether the natural flow of Barak river will be affected or not.

He said he would know about these things after the visit of the parliamentary representative committee at Tipaimukh lead by Awami League MP leader Abdur Razzak.

Foreign minister Dipu Moni told the reporters on Friday that a delegation would soon visit India.

At the same time she said India had recently provided Bangladesh with information on the proposed Tipaimukh Dam

Some political parties as well as water resource experts apprehend an environmental disaster in the greater Sylhet region of Bangladesh in the wake of the proposed Tipaimukh Dam

But New Delhi holds that the hydroelectric project would not pose any barrier to the availability of water downstream.

He said the talk of constructing Tipaimukh dam was first raised at the meeting of the Joint River Commission in 1972 and 73.

Later in the meeting of the commission in 2003 and 2005 the opinion of Bangladesh was sought about the plans of India. But the then government did not say anything, he said

"In 2004, we opposed this project in the trans-boundary river convention. But now we observe that many are trying to curry favour in the name of movement.

Muhith proposed an 'executive board on river basin' to monitor the river basins of the region including those of Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China.

"They are opposing Tipaimukh from the viewpoint of opposing India. We will have to be aware of them," he said.

"The issue of our right over water flow will supersede our loss in the construction of Tipaimukh Dam," said Workers Party chief Rashed Khan Menon MP, elected from Awami League-led Grand Alliance.

The vast regions of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam will be damaged along with Bangladesh, said general secretary of Bangladesher Communist Party Mujahidul Islam Selim.

"The Indian government will have to bear the consequences if the bilateral ties between the two countries are at stake," he cautioned

"This dam will cause disaster to the agro-based culture of riverine Bangladesh," said Hilal Uddin, chief coordinator of the preparation committee of the convention.

"There are many dangers of a big dam. It drowns human habitation, increases the risks of water-borne diseases and earthquake, causes diseases from gas created from water logging and decreases siltation," he said

Uddin said the natural flows of the rivers Surma, Kushiara and Meghna will also be affected because of the dam.


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