Saturday, July 25, 2009

China supports Bangladesh-India talks on Tipaimukh dam

Dhaka, July 24 (IANS)
China has expressed support for talks between Dhaka and New Delhi over the proposed construction of Tipaimukh dam in India’s Manipur state. The Barak river, on which the dam is to be built, flows from China into India and then goes to Bangladesh.Visiting Chinese special envoy Zhou Gang, who met the Bangladeshi leadership Thursday, supported the dialogue process, New Age newspaper said Friday.

His response came even as Dhaka prepared to send a team of parliamentarians, officials and a water resource expert to visit the site of the proposed dam.

Team leader Abdur Razzaq announced Thursday that the team would leave without two lawmakers from the main opposition, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The day witnessed mutual recrimination between leaders of the government and the BNP, each accusing the other for lack of cooperation.

BNP, headed by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, has cast its lot with a section of environmentalists and NGOs opposing the Indian project on the ground that it would deny Bangladesh its share of water and endanger the ecology of the Sylhet region.

Zia has sent a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to abandon the project.

“The parliamentary standing committee of water resources ministry does not have any representative from BNP. We have requested the party to send names of its two lawmakers but they did not cooperate with us, taking the issue politically,” Abdur Razzaq, chairman of the parliamentary committee, told the BBC.

The delegation will leave for India July 29 to carry out preliminary assessment of the possible impact on Bangladesh if the dam is built. The team is scheduled to return Aug 3.

Barak river is part of the Brahmaputra river system that the three countries share. There have been reports that China wants to build a dam on the river as well. Tipaimukh is located 200 km upstream of the Bangladesh border.

India says it needs the dam to generate power for the development of its northeastern region.

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