Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bangladesh team to visit dam site

By Mark Dummett

BBC News, Dhaka

A delegation of Bangladeshi parliamentarians has arrived in north-east India to examine plans to build a hydroelectric dam.

Many Bangladeshis worry that, if built, the Tipaimukh dam in the state of Manipur will reduce water flowing into its own north-eastern region.

Work on building the dam has not yet started.

But this is already a sensitive issue in Bangladesh, a country normally associated with having too much water.

The leader of the main opposition party in Bangladesh has called on India to cancel the project for the sake of the millions of people in both countries, who she said would be harmed by it.

There have been several street protests as well, by those who say that two rivers, which pass through Bangladesh's Sylhet region, could dry up if the dam is built.

They have compared the proposals to the Farakka Barrage, which India built in the 1970s on the Ganges to divert water away from Bangladesh.

Despite a later agreement between the two countries to share water, Bangladesh's north-western regions continue to suffer from shortages in the winter months.

After meeting officials in Delhi, the Bangladeshi parliamentarians will travel to Manipur to visit the site of the proposed dam.

They are to examine whether Bangladesh really does have something to fear.

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