Thursday, August 13, 2009

'Tipaimukh Dam, a hydroelectric project’: No component of irrigation, says Razzak

UNB, Dhaka

The leader of the fact-finding parliamentary delegation on Wednesday said they had been cleared by India on three matters over the controversial Tipaimukh Dam, including the main one that it will be purely a hydroelectric scheme without any component of water withdrawal from the common river Barak for irrigation.

The two other clarifications were that the Indian side categorically said there would be no structure at Fulertal or any other place on the downstream of the Barak and the Indian government provided data as to how much additional water would flow in Kushiara and Surma rivers of Bangladesh during the dry season following discharge of water through the dam.

Abdur Razzak, also chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources Ministry, disclosed the explanations given by the Indian government after discussing their inspection report placed in short form before the watchdog body in its on Wednesday's meeting.

Briefing newsmen at Jatiya Sangad Media Centre he described the outcome of the parliamentary delegation's visit to the Tipaimkuh project site and their discussions with government leaders in New Delhi en route.

On the amount of discharge of water down the dam, he said there is almost similarity to a study in this regard carried out in 1993 during the BNP regime by a foreign company. The former Water Resources Minister, Razzak, observed this is for the first time in last 40 years the Indian authority provided

Bangladesh delegation a booklet containing extensive data and information about Tipaimukh project. He mentioned that they have submitted a voluminous report on the Tipaimukh dam to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for next course of action.

"The Prime Minister instantly directed forming an expert and technical committee to examine the data and information of the report to determine Bangladesh's benefits and risks over the Tipaimukh dam," Razzak told journalists at the briefing.

He said government-to-government interaction between the two countries would decide the next course of action.

On July 29, a 10-member parliamentary delegation led by Abdur Razzak flew to India for the visit to the Tipaimukh dam site at the invitation of the Indian government. The delegation retuned home on August 4.

Razzak said the Indian side also informed them that the Tipaimukh dam would help in controlling floods in Bangladesh as the project will have a flood- moderation component.

He said a presentation on the proposed Tipaimukh Hydroelectricity Project with elaborate information and data was presented by the Indian government before the parliamentary delegation in New Delhi on the first day of their visit when officials and experts of the Foreign Ministry, Water Resources Ministry and Power Ministry of India were present.

Razzak said the projected data and information showed that, during dry season, water flow in Barak River near Bangladesh border would increase and flood intensity be reduced during rainy season through decreasing water flow into the river.

He also mentioned Indian two senior ministers' assurances to them by reiterating Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's assurance given to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the recently held NAM Summit in Egypt that India would not do anything which can harm Bangladesh.

Razzak said after the Indian premier and two senior Ministers' assurances "why we will not trust them. No work will progress if such mistrust remains."

Replying to a question about opposition-planned Long March against Indian move to construct Tipaimukh dam he said, "It is being done for gaining political interest and misleading people."

About reported fear of destruction of the proposed dam by earthquake and its consequences, he said the Indian side informed that the dam has been designed calculating the risk of facing shock of over 8.5 on Richter scale intensity of earthquake which is much higher than tremors that had occurred in this region so far.

So there is no apprehension of colossal loss for Bangladesh due to consequences of the dam suffering from possible earthquake, he said.

He further said both Bangladesh and India would carry out further studies independently on possible adverse impacts on the environment following construction of the dam and exchange data and information with each other.

He said during their low-flying helicopter trip over Tipaimukh dam site, the delegation members didn't see any structure of dam at Tipaimukh.

Regarding the Indian progress in construction, he said: "Still they have not invited tender for construction of the dam."

Committee members ABM Anwarul Huq and Abdur Rahman were also present at the briefing.

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