Friday, August 7, 2009

JS team's visit to Tipaimukh

THE parliamentary team that visited Delhi has reportedly been convinced that the Tipaimukh Dam was not going to have any adverse impact on the Bangladesh part of the Borak-Meghna river basin. They are said to have been assured that India will not do anything inimical to Bangladesh's interests in terms of river system or ecological problem. The team members stayed most of the time in Delhi where they were briefed by the Indian ministers; they could not visit the site reportedly for unfavourable weather.

More than sixty percent of the Barak-Meghna basin lies within Bangladesh. No assessment of Tipaimukh impacts on this part of the basin has yet been made. A joint study proposed by Bangladesh has not taken place. While experts need years to assess the environmental, ecological and economic impacts of such a big project, the team took only three days to come to a conclusion. Then, what is the magic that a short briefing convinced the team? Their over-optimistic statement does not sound convincing. People naturally have the right to ask if this is the position of the government on the proposed Tipaimukh Dam.

Any form of human intervention on natural systems leads to unforeseen consequences like the death of the Sundri trees in the Sundarbans caused by increased salinity as a result of withdrawal of the Ganges water at upstream that led to the death of 30 rivers. Such consequences could not be imagined when the Farakka Barrage was commissioned in 1975. The Tipaimukh Project is being pursued at a time when the US and Europe are decommissioning dams to revive the rivers damaged by those.


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