Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Halting the river diversion

ALL conscious sections of people in Bangladesh are now united to persuade Indian authorities to hold back from going ahead with the Tipaimukh Dam. Expert opinion is unanimous on this issue. But Tipaimukh could be trivial compared to India's river-linking project. It was perceived as a grand plan to link up major river systems flowing through India to build a national water grid. Once fully established, the grid would have complete control of all rivers flowing through Indian territories and divert waters to parched areas.

A seminar held at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies (BIPSS) on Monday, sought to underline the grave possibility that Bangladesh might become completely dependent on India for water-- as early as 2020-- if the river-linking project is implemented. The existence of Bangladesh would be imperiled if the river-linking plan gets underway from tardy reactions on the part of Bangladesh as had been noted in the past.

A previous-Congress led government in India is on record for committing that nothing would be done about the river-linking project without consulting Bangladesh. But two state governments in India have signed accords to divert and link up rivers some time ago. More Indian states are waiting to initial similar accords. The Indian government is reportedly contacting foreign donors for the project.

Thus, Bangladesh cannot afford to remain silent. If it relies on empty promises from India, then it will be left with fait accompli to suffer from it perpetually. The country should be prepared to go the whole hog. It should alert the international community to its plight. The government should launch an immediate campaign among donors so that they do not commit funds for the river linking project considering its immensely destructive consequences.


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