Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dhaka opposition parties keep out of team to inspect Indian dam

Dhaka, July 26 (IANS)

Bangladesh’s opposition parties have opted out of a team that will visit the site of the Tipaimukh dam in India’s Manipur state.

While Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has conveyed that their two lawmakers would not join it, a lone member of its Islamist ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Saturday said he had met with an accident and was unlikely to join.

The lawmaker had not sent in his travel papers in response to the government’s invitation, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

“We are not going to India as part of the parliamentary delegation. It is our party decision,” the chief whip of the opposition in the parliament, Zainul Abdin Farroque, told the newspaper Saturday.

Nearly two months after India mooted the proposal for a visit by the parliamentary team, Dhaka is set to send its team Wednesday.

Led by Abdur Razzak, a former freedom fighter and minister who is the chairman of the standing committee of parliament on water resources, the team will have lawmakers, officials and an independent water resource expert.

The BNP had been insisting on five experts that it said were ‘neutral’. BNP chief former prime minister Khaleda Zia has dispatched a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to abandon the project.

She has readied a protest letter that would be addressed to different governments and international organisations to complain that the dam would deny Bangladesh its share of river water and have adverse effect on its ecology.

The BNP has joined protests by a section of environmentalists and NGOs and there have been rallies outside the Indian High Commission office in downtown Dhaka.

During its six-day trip to India, the 10-member Bangladeshi delegation is scheduled to spend a day in Manipur from where they will fly to the project site by helicopter.

India plans to construct a multi-purpose dam on the river Barak to generate 1,500 megawatts electricity and prevent monsoon floods.

Part of the Brahmaputra river system that flows from China, Barak river passes through India before flowing into Bangladesh to form Surma and Kushiara rivers that eventually merge into Meghna.

Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Manmohan Singh have agreed to resolve the issue by talks during their meeting in Egypt.

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