Monday, August 10, 2009

Bangladesh will mount 'mass movement' against Indian dam: Delwar

Dhaka, August 9 (

Secretary-general of the main opposition BNP, Khandakar Delwar Hossain, said on Sunday Bangladesh would mount a "mass movement" against India's planned Tipaimukh dam if it pressed ahead with the controversial project.

"We must thwart India's plan to set up this death-trap for Bangladesh, which is called the Tipaimukh dam," Delwar told a meeting on the dam at the National Press Club.

He said BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia would lead a movement to raise public awareness Justify Fullthroughout the country against India's plan to build what they say is solely a hydro-electric dam in the north-eastern state of Manipur.

"We have been saying 'no' to Tipai in all meetings of the joint-rivers commission, while the Awami League never said a word about it during the whole 1996-2001 period," said Delwar.

In 1972, the head of the then government Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gave his blessing to India's commissioning of the Farakka barrage, he said.

As a result, Delwar said, the north-western region of Bangladesh is suffering from depleted water bodies and reduced biodiversity.

Delwar claimed India wished to see Bangladesh become a "crippled and ineffective state".

He also raised the issue of the partial withdrawal of troops from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, saying he strongly opposed a call from Santu Larma, leader of the Parbottay Chattogram Jona Sanghati Somiti (PCJSS), for a complete withdrawal of military forces from the area.

"Santu Larma, the erstwhile leader of the hill region's militants, is now demanding a total military pullout.

"After that what happens, if the old problems return who will quell the unrest?" said Delwar.

"People from the hill regions work and live throughout Bangladesh. We have not confined them only to the hill districts," he said.

Dr SI Khan, introducing himself as an environment and water specialist, presented the keynote paper of the discussion.

Khan, in his paper titled 'Tipaimukh poses a death trap for Bangladesh', said, if built, the dam would jeopardise downstream water bodies, bio-systems and settlements.

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