Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bangla to assess dam impact

Dhaka, August 13 2009

Ahead of Foreign Minister Dipu Moni's visit to India next month during which the Tipaimukh dam issue is likely to be discussed, Bangladesh has decided to set up an expert committee to assess possible economic, ecological and environmental impacts of the cross-border hydro-power project.

Premier Sheikh Hasina ordered formation of the committee as a parliamentary delegation, which was on a week-long visit to India, submitted its findings and documents provided by authorities in the neighbouring country with regard to the mega project on Barak river in Manipur.

"The committee will evaluate the environmental, ecological and economic impacts on Bangladesh," a spokesman in the Prime Minister's office told PTI here.

His comments came as a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Foreign Minister Moni planned to visit New Delhi in the first week of September.

He did not give the dates.

The spokesman said that Tipaimukh is expected to be a major agenda of her talks during her first formal visit to India since the assumption of Bangladesh's new government after the December 29, 2008 general elections.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources Abdur Razzak, who led the high-power delegation to India to review the Tipaimukh project, last night said the tour yielded three "achievements" with regard to Bangladesh's concerns about the dam.

Emerging from a meeting of the standing committee, Razzak said India had assured the delegation that the dam was meant for a hydro-electric plant, and was not an irrigation barrage requiring withdrawal of water.

"They told us about the amount of water to be discharged into the Barak river during the dry season and how much of it will flow into the Surma and Kushiara of Bangladesh".

Leading water expert Ainun Nishat, who co-drafted the Landmark 1996 Ganges Water Treaty, supplemented Razzak saying "from the engineering and technical point of view" a well-negotiated agreement on Tipaimukh could benefit Bangladesh even if an irrigation barrage was built as part of the project.

The water flow of Barak in Bangladesh will increase in the dry season and drop in the rainy season with lessening possibility of flood, said both Razzak, also a former water resource minister, and Nishat.

Source: The Sangai Express / Anisur Rahman (PTI)

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