Thursday, June 18, 2009

Razzak to lead JS team to Tipai

MPs from AL, JP, Jamaat, experts included; BNP left out

Rashidul Hasan and Shakhawat Liton

The parliamentary standing committee on water resources ministry yesterday formed a nine-member team comprised of lawmakers and experts to visit the Tipaimukh dam area to assess its impact on Bangladesh.

Chairman of the parliamentary body Abdur Razzak, also presidium member of ruling Awami League (AL) and former water resources minister, will head the committee.

The committee includes AL lawmakers Abdur Rahman, AKM Fazlul Haque and ABM Anwarul Haque, Jatiya Party lawmaker Ruhul Amin Hawlader and Jamaat-e-Islami lawmaker Hamidur Rahman Azad, meeting sources said.

All of them are members of the parliamentary body while it does not have any lawmakers from BNP. Three water resources experts will be incorporated in the nine-member committee.

Contacted by The Daily Star Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque said he does not know anything about it and he would comment after enquiry.

The committee chief, however, said BNP lawmakers can talk to them on the formation of the committee inside the parliament, if they want.

“We will visit the Tipaimukh Dam project area soon in consultation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Abdur Razzak said in a press briefing after the meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban.

He said the committee members at the meeting expressed their frustration following the comments of experts on the Tipaimukh Dam 'without knowing the exact situation'.

“We have formed the all-party parliamentary body to let the nation know the exact information,” Razzak asserted.

After the visit, the parliamentary body will place its report to the government that had already vowed to take necessary measures based on the report.

Hasina on May 27 said an all-party parliamentary committee would be formed to visit the site of Tipaimukh Dam before the government took any decision in this regard.

"After the visit to the spot, the committee will submit its report to the House to decide whether the government would give a nod of approval of constructing the dam," the premier was quoted as saying by her Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad after a visit of Indian high commissioner to Hasina.

Water Resources Minister Romesh Chandra Sen last Sunday also echoed the premier's view.

On lawmakers' anxiety over construction of the Tipaimukh Dam, the water resources minister said the Tipaimukh Dam is unlike the Farakka Barrage and Indian government assured Bangladesh of not diverting water from the Barak River.

At the press briefing at the media center of parliament, Abdur Razzak blasted 'experts' for commenting on Tipaimukh Dam without 'having necessary information'.

He said Professor Muzaffer Ahmad and many others remained silent when trees at the Suhrawardi Udayan were felled indiscriminately, but they are now talking about the dam without knowing the exact scenario.

Muzaffer, on Monday, asked the premier not to stand against people's expectation and told ministers and MPs to step down if they failed to stop India from constructing the dam.

Experts said the downstream Sylhet region would be turned into a desert if the Dam were built on the upstream Indian region.

Razzak also lambasted former water resources minister of BNP-Jamaat-led alliance government Hafizuddin Ahmed for "agreeing" with India on the Tipaimukh Dam.

“The issue of construction of the Tipai Dam was discussed at Bangladesh-India Joint River Commission meeting in 2003. The then water resources minister did not say anything against the dam but now he is getting louder against it,” Razzakalleged.

When his attention was drawn to remarks of a number of ministers, Razzak said the committee would disclose the report before the nation after visiting the Tipaimukh project.

“Indian government has informed our foreign ministry and water resources ministry that the Dam will be constructed to generate hydroelectricity not for irrigation purpose. And the project is yet to start,” he added.


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