Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parliamentary team to do all to collect most Tipai info

The parliamentary delegation scheduled to visit the Tipaimukh dam site in India on Friday, said that the extent of its access to the site will depend on how much its counterpart is willing to allow.

The team, that is scheduled to leave Dhaka on Wednesday for a six-day visit, however said it will try its best to collect as much information and documents as possible for assessing the dam's effect on Bangladesh.

"We will not be able to roam around at will while visiting the Tipaimukh dam, as we will be guided by the Indian counterpart," chief of the delegation Abdur Razzaq, also chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on water resources, told reporters after a committee meeting yesterday.

"We will move around as much as they will allow us," added Razzaq, also a senior lawmaker of ruling Awami League.

The delegation chief also admitted that the team's strength has been weakened due to main opposition lawmakers' refusal to be included in it.

Razzaq said, "It would be better if they had gone with us," adding that independent lawmaker Mohammad Fazlul Azim from Noakhali-6 was included in the delegation.

The 11-member delegation comprised of seven lawmakers, one official each from the water resources ministry, foreign affairs ministry, and Joint Rivers Commission, and a water expert from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), will finalise the ambit of its investigation, agenda, and strategy today in a meeting.

Razzaq said they will meet officials of the Indian foreign ministry and energy ministry on July 29, the first day of their visit.

The delegation will also make a courtesy call to the Indian foreign minister and energy minister on July 30.

On July 31, the delegation will fly to Gouhati and go to the Tipaimukh dam site by a helicopter from there. The team will spend the day at the site.

"We are likely to return to Delhi on August 2, and likely to return home the next day," ABM Anwarul Hoque, one of the delegates, told The Daily Star after the briefing.

About the ambit of the delegation's investigation, Razzaq said, "We will try to assess how much damage to our environment the proposed dam is likely to cause. We will ask our expert to assess the matter."

"We will also try to find out whether any structure is already built on the Barak river," he said.

"News reports show a picture of a dam on the Barak River, but we know there is no structure built on that river, therefore we will go and see for ourselves what is the real picture," added Razzaq.

He said the delegation will also try to know the exact nature of the project.

Source: The Daily Star

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