Friday, July 3, 2009

Tipaimukh Dam Controversy: Bangladesh may take action against Indian envoy

Ashfaq Wares Khan

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has delved into the Tipaimukh Dam controversy by suggesting that the government may take action against Indian High Commissioner Pinak Chakravarty for breaching diplomatic protocol.

Moni’s comments came amid a heated debated surrounding the Tipaimukh hydro-electric project, with opposition parties and critics becoming increasingly hostile to the proposal.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s assurances of sending a team of Bangladeshi MPs to visit the site has not stemmed the wave of opposition attacks of the proposed dam.

Chakravarty had recently termed Bangladeshi critics of the Tipaimukh Dam as “so-called experts” who belonged to a ‘particular group’ having ‘India-phobia’.

Reacting to Chakravarty’s critics on Wednesday, Moni said, “Personally, I think Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty might not have acted within his limits.”

She warned that the government might also take action against the High Commissioner.

“A foreign diplomat has some limitation on what to say and what not…If he had violated diplomatic rules, then actions might be taken against him through proper channel,” she said.

Moni’s comments are a turnaround on comments made last week suggesting both New Delhi and Dhaka would cooperate over the matter for a ‘win-win’ situation.

She said India had assured Bangladesh that it would not take any steps to harm it.

Several experts from Bangladesh warn that the proposed 1,500MW Tipaimukh hydro-electric project on the Barak river at junction of Manipur, Assam and Mizoram, could dry up the rivers Surma and Kushiara in northeastern Sylhet.

Opposition groups in India, led by a collection of NGOs named committee against Tipaimukh Dam, claim the dam would submerge tribal land, affect cultivable land and displace thousands on the Indian side in Manipur.

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