Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tipaimukh Politics in Bangladesh

Joe Fleishman

July 20, 2009

Tipaimukh Dam is now the hot topic in Bangladesh politics. The heat of Tipaimukh is not restricted only inside Bangladesh but also India is feeling the flame. There is strong opposition against Tipaimukh dam from Inside the India. Dr. R.K. Ranjan in his article mentioned that Tipaimukh dam is a death trap for the indigenous people.

Tipaimukh project is not something very new. It´s a very old project. Necessity of such dam was first though in 1954. At that time "Assam government requested the Central Water Commission and the Planning Commission to identify a suitable location where the monsoon waters of the Barak could be impounded to form an artificial flooding zone." -as per Dr. R.K. Ranjan said.

"The Central Water Commission (CWC) submitted their report in 1984, which proposed the construction of the Tipaimukh high dam at a cost of Rs. 1,078 cores." Dr. Ranjan Singh said.

So it´s a long-standing process. Its upshot is not without question. But why from out of the blue Tipaimukh became so hot? Why India-Bangladesh relationship experienced little bitterness on Tipaimukh? It is surprising but understandable.

Some political parties in Bangladesh use anti-Indian sentiment for there politics. Sometimes this emotional motivation works magically. Some suspect, opposition is heating it up in order to regain momentum from their shocking election defeat.

Main opposition BNP ruled the country from 2001 to 2006. During this time they met several times with India in Joint River Commission -JRC. In 2003 Bangladeshi Water Resource Minister M. Hafiz Uddin represented Bangladesh delegate in JRC. Two days long 35 JRC meeting ended up without any dispute. PTI reported "Two ministers signed the agreed minutes of the meeting".

PTI has also reported "Addressing a joint press conference, Sethi said the river linking project was among the 'miscellaneous items' that came up for discussion.

The minister said there was no difference of opinion on the agenda fixed by the two sides and the discussion were held in a cordial atmosphere and in a spirit of give and take.

On the proposed Tipaimukh project in the north-east India assured Bangladesh that if there would be any diversion of water it would be done after due consultation with Dhaka."

So overall analysis is not suggesting BNP or Bangladesh government had any dispute on Tipaimukh. Rather they had mutually agreed the issues which include Tipaimukh.

Now after six years BNP made a 180 degree turn. Denying any discussion on Tipaimukh with India and signing agreement is far beyond imagination.

Now the question is what is the meaning of these sorts of unusual falsehood? Undoubtedly politics. Denying an agreed matter will mount pressure on the Government. This issue will add up fuel on some anti-Indian sentiment – certainly this is what they are looking for.

When Indian High Commissioner Mr. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarti presented some information on the previous discussions, BNP demanded immediate withdrawal of him. Provoking words were about to cooling down their warm relationship. However, Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina met with her Indian counterpart while both were in NAM meeting. Both the nation agreed to work on side by side to resolve any dispute. Indian Prime Minister assured her that India will not do anything that is harmful for Bangladesh.

This should conclude the confusion but politics does matter. BNP is still looking for other ways with the same issue - to take maximum advantage by confusing people.


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