MUCH to the expectation of the people for a common and united stand of the whole nation against the Tipaimukh Dam, an atmosphere of national unity and consensus seems to prevail in the country at long last. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged all to be united to protect the country's interests over the issue. Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson and leader of the opposition in Parliament Begum Khaleda Zia also called for national unity the same day and offered cooperation to the government on this question. It now depends mainly on the government to consolidate and carry forward the unity.
Construction of, dam and withdrawal of water without ensuring minimum environmental flow ultimately leads to the death of a river. Tipaimukh Dam on the river Barak upstream of the Meghna, one of the three large rivers in Bangladesh, will have devastating effect on the ecology and environment in the whole Barak-Meghna basin, about 70 percent of which lies in this country. Bangladesh is a deltaic land formed by the rivers the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna and cannot maintain its ecological existence without the normal flows of the rivers.
The severity of devastation caused by the construction of dams and withdrawal of water has been demonstrated by the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges. It led to the death of about 30 rivers and serious ecological imbalance in the southwestern region. Lessons from the experiences of the Farakka Barrage are too crystal clear. The Tipaimukh Dam is thus viewed with great concern in Bangladesh. The whole nation must stand united on this vital question of national interest. Any divisive move from any corner will be suicidal.