Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tipaimukh to become another Farakka

Staff Correspondent, Sylhet

People of Zakiganj yesterday formed a human chain at Amolshid in the upazila protesting Indian move to construct a dam on the river Borak at Tipaimukh in the Indian state of Manipur.

Acid Santrash Nirmul Committee, Sylhet, staged the protest against the controversial dam project, 100-km upstream of eastern border of Sylhet district.

The river Borak bifurcated into two flows and entered Bangladesh as Surma and Kushiyara through Zakiganj border.

Zakiganj Pourasava (municipality) Mayor Iqbal Ahmed and Sylhet City Corporation Councillor Koyes Lodi also joined the human chain programme.

On Friday night, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (Bela) organised a discussion in Sylhet city in observance of the World Environment Day.

Chaired by Sushasaner Janya Nagarik Sylhet chapter General Secretary Faruque Mahmud Chowdhury, the speakers raised voice against the proposed Tipaimukh dam project.

Sylhet Divisional Commissioner Zafar Ahmed Khan, TIB's Conscious Citizens' Committee Convener EU Shahidul Islam, Dr Sudhamoy Majumder, Advocate Syed Ashraf Hossain, Daily Uttar-Purbo Editor Aziz Ahmed Selim, Shahjalal University teachers Awal Biswas and Farzana Raihan, Press Club Vice-president Al-Azad, and Coordinator of Bela Sylhet chapter Ayesha Chowdhury were among the discussants.

The speakers said the people of 12 districts in the country's north-eastern region including greater Sylhet and Mymensingh and those of the Indian states of Assam and Manipur should raise their voice against the controversial dam project.

Once the project is implemented, it will create havoc in the whole region, the speakers cautioned, urging the democratic and patriotic forces to unite against the Indian move to construct the proposed dam on the river Borak.

The Indian government initiated the project about a decade ago, but could not go ahead in the face of widespread agitation from its own people at times. Even some 25 peoples' forums like that of Tipaimukh Dam Resistance Committee have been formed there to protest the move.

With reference to some experts' opinion, the discussion meeting was told that implementation of the dam project mainly aimed at producing electricity would cause a disastrous situation in the Meghna basin, especially the greater Sylhet and Mymensingh region, during the dry season due to withdrawal of water in the upper stream.

Also, they said, there are apprehensions of recurrent flooding during the monsoon due to possible release of water.

It will be another Farakka, the speakers said, urging the people to resist the move.

Two key-note papers--one on 'Tipaimukh dam: The Possible Disaster'and the other on 'climate change'were presented at the discussion by Prof Zahir Bin Alam of Shahjalal university of Science and Technology (SUST) and Zahrat Rishat of Bela.

Divisional Commissioner Zafar Ahmed Khan said the Tipaimukh dam project issue should be resolved internationally. It would not only cause disaster in Sylhet or in Bangladesh but also in the Indian states of Manipur, Mizoram and Assam, he said.

He said the Indian government is going ahead with the controversial project ignoring protests in the Manipur state.

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