Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tipai dam to choke Bangladesh rivers: Seminar

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh might face a severe ecological imbalance if India builds the proposed Tipaimukh dam on the Borak river, said speakers at a discussion yesterday.

If the dam is constructed, some major rivers that have been playing a vital role in maintaining the country's environmental balance over the years would be affected seriously, they said at a discussion at Shaheed Munier Chowdhury auditorium of Teacher-Student Centre building at Dhaka University.

Samajtantrik Chhatra Front (SCF), a left-leaning student organisation, organised the discussion titled "Dam on Tipaimukh, its effect on Bangladesh and relationship between India and Bangladesh".

Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal Convener Khalequzzaman said, "People of Bangladesh and India are against the construction of the proposed dam. But, we become sufferers due to the Indian government's aggressive stance and weakness in Bangladesh government's policy."

Prof Akmol Hossain of DU stressed the need for holding discussions between water experts from both Bangladesh and India on the dam's possible effects on environment.

Engineer M Enamul Haq said not only the people of Bangladesh but also the people of Mizoram and Monipur would be affected if the dam is constructed.

The speakers feared that following construction of the dam, water of some major rivers in Bangladesh would become salty due to penetration of salt water from the Bay of Bengal with a fall in flow of water in the rivers.

Dr SI Khan emphasised the necessity for forming region-based water commissions under the supervision of the United Nations to settle such disputes.

SCF President Fakhruddin Atiq chaired the discussion moderated by its General Secretary Janardan Dutta Nantu.

Meanwhile, speakers at a roundtable urged people to mount pressure on the government for taking measures to prevent construction of Tipaimukh dam and for not getting connected with the proposed Asian Highway.

The government is trying to serve the purposes of foreign countries especially neighbouring India playing down the country's interests, they told the roundtable on 'Tipaimukh Dam and Asian Highway' organised by National People's Forum at the Jatiya Press Club.

The discussants also alleged that the Indian government has violated the Ganges Water Sharing Treaty between Bangladesh and India by initiating the project on the Borak River.

Mahmudur Rahman, former energy secretary to ex-premier Khaleda Zia and acting editor of the daily Amar Desh, said, “The government is trying to misguide people by delivering thoughtless remarks on the crucial issues of Tipaimukh dam and Asian Highway. It is clear that the government is hiding actual information about the two issues.”

Bangladesh will face extreme environmental disaster if the dam is built at Tipaimukh. But the government is yet to conduct any environmental impact analysis to measure the probable negative effects of the dam, he said.

On inclusion of BNP-proposed expert team in the delegation for visiting the dam site, he said, “BNP has fallen into another trap of the government by submitting the list of experts. The government is applying political strategies to weaken the main opposition.”

Referring to Farakka Barrage and the proposed Tipaimukh Dam, former state minister for law Shahjahan Omar said, “Repeated attempts by the Indian government to construct dams can be defined as India's international river project.”

He alleged that the Indian government is trying to turn Bangladesh into a desert through implementation of the long-term project.

Former UGC member Dr Tareq Shamsur Rahman feared that a large number of people in the country would become environmental refugees if the Tipaimukh dam is constructed.

“India's water aggression is a serious threat to the country's freedom and sovereignty,” he added.

Dr Mahbubullah of Dhaka University and Islami Oikya Jote Secretary General Abdul Latif Nizami also spoke.


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