Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tipai Dam protests to mark Bhasani's Long March

Ehsanul Haque Jasim

Different organisations of the country are taking preparations to launch a massive movement on Tipaimukh Dam issue to voice their demand for stopping its construction to save vast areas of the country from desertification.

To mark the 29th death anniversary of legendary leader Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani, which will be observed on November 17, some organisations will announce different programmes on Tipaimukh Dam issue in memory of his historic Farakka Long March.

On the occasion of his death anniversary, the Tipaimukh Dam issue will be discussed by organising seminars, roundtables, discussions and other programmes by different organisations.

In May 1976 Maulana Bhasani led a massive Long March demanding demolition of the Farakka Barrage constructed by India. It was the first people's movement against India on distribution of the Ganges's water.

Surma Kushiara Meghna Bachao Andalon, an organisation of people of 16 districts of northern-eastern portion of the country, will organise a rally at Muktagan in the city on October 15. From the rally, it will announce the schedule of movement on Tipaimukh Dam issue, informed its Member Secretary Md Selim Uddin.

He told this reporter that Maulana Bhasani played a leading role at a critical moment of the nation by raising his voice against Farakka Barrage. We will raise our voice against Tipaimukh Dam in the absence of a figure like Maulana Bhasani saying that he is the pioneer of movement against India.

Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) already announced a long march towards Tipaimukh Dam. Led by its chief Mufti Syed Rezaul Karim Pirsaheb of Charmonai, the long march will start from Dhaka on December 24.

IAB leaders and workers are now taking preparations to make success the long march.

Its central leader Shahidul Islam Kabir told The New Nation that already all the units of Sylhet Division of the party are working for making the long march successful. IAB will, anyhow, implement its announced long march on time in the interest of the country, said IAB joint secretary Prof ATM Hemayet Uddin.

In protest against the construction of the dam, the Sylhet unit of Jamaat-e Islami is taking preparations to hold a boat march on Kushiara river towards Tipaimukh Dam. Already it held a unique boat march on Surma river two months ago. Former Jamaat lawmaker Farid Uddin Chowdhury told this reporter the boat march on Kushiara will be held within a short time. We are taking preparation to hold the programme, he said.

Meanwhile, the units of leftist parties in Sylhet division are also planning to initiate programmes, sources said.

A three-day long march towards the dam was held from August 8 to 10 under the banner of Sylhet Division Development Action Council (SDDAC). The participants of the long march could not pass the border of Zakiganj due to police interception. At that time they announced a seven-day air march towards Delhi on January 8 to 15.

SDDAC president Advocate Abed Raza said that the air march programme will be implemented on time. "We will take visas from Indian High Commission to reach Delhi to participate at the air march," he said. He hoped that the government will help them to implement the programme.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Tipai Dam to adversely affect country

Jessore Correspondent

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said the existence of Bangladesh would be threatened if the Tipaimukh Dam is constructed.

Jatiya Sartho Rakkha Forum Jessore branch organised the roundtable titled `Tipaimukh Dam of India: Bangladesh's Existence Threatened" at the Jessore Press Club.

Kazi Monirul Huda, member of the Forum moderated the roundtable while it was addressed, among others, by central vice president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) Rabiul Alam, ex-district secretary of AL Sharif Abdur Rakib, journalist Benjin Khan, Jamir Ahmed, Fakir Sawkat, Fakhre Alam, political leaders Aminul Kamal Rumi, Amjad Hossen and Mahidur Rahman Tutul.

The speakers at the programme said, the ecological and environmental situation of Bangladesh would be severely damaged if the Tipaimukh Dam is constructed. They underscored the need for unity to make India desist from constructing the dam.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tipaimukh dam: IAB procession towards Indian HC intercepted

Staff Reporter

Leaders of Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) yesterday said that at any cost they would resist the construction of Tipaimukh dam across the river Borak to save the country's vast area from desertification by forming strong mass movement.

Leaders of IAB said at a rally at Muktangan in the city before starting a procession towards Indian High Commission in Dhaka demanding stopping the construction of the dam.

IAB chief Mufti Syed Rzaul Karim Pirsaheb Chormonai attended the programme as chief guest. Its nayebe ameer Moulana Abdur Rashid Pirsaheb Barguna, presidium members Moulana Syed Musaddek Billah Almadani and Moulana Nurul Huda Foyezi, general secretary Moulana Yunus Ahmed, joint secretary Prof Mahbubur Rahman, city unit president Prof ATM Hemayet Uddin, central leaders Prof Syed Belayet Hossain, Moulana Ahmed Abdul Qaiyum and Sheikh Fazle Rabbi Masud, among others, addressed the programme.

When the procession reached Malibag, police intercepted and the procession could not reach its destination.

IAB chief said that the Indian government already completed all preparations to construct Tiaimukh dam at Monipur in India at the upper reaches of the rivers Surma and Kushiara violating the international law. However, we are committed to resist the construction of the dam, he added.

He called upon the citydwellers to the IAB long march programme towards Tipaimukh Dam on December 24.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tipaimukh dam report handed to parliament

Dhaka, Oct 7 (

A report on the all-party parliamentary team's fact-finding mission on Tipaimukh dam project site was presented in parliament on Wednesday.

Water resources ministry-related parliamentary standing committee chairman Abdur Razzak presented the eight-page report.

Razzak, a former water resources minister, said, "During low-altitude flight of the helicopter no structure came into the view of the team of representatives.

"No preparatory activity was seen to create any barrage or structure at the low-lying areas of the project. No physical work had started for the implementation of the project," he said.

The report said Indian foreign minister S M Krishna and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde assured the representative team that there was no irrigation component under Tipaimukh project.

No barrage or irrigation structure will be constructed on the low end or anywhere else and no water will be taken from the Borak River, they had told the team.

"The project is only being implemented to create hydroelectricity and decrease the occurrence of floods. No structure for collecting water would be created in the low end of the project," the report quoted Indian officials as saying.

India's contentious dam project is planned to cross the Barak River, which enters into Bangladesh as the Surma and Kushiara rivers. The two rivers are lifeline for hundreds of water bodies in the greater Sylhet region of Bangladesh.

A 10-member representative team headed by Razzak visited India from July 29– Aug 04. But physical visit to the site in the northeastern Manipur state was not possible on July 31 and Aug 2 due to poor weather conditions.

Razzak said on return from India that the ministers had assured them that they would not implement any project to harm Bangladesh.

Main opposition BNP has been among the loudest critics of the proposed dam, although it failed to take up the offer of sending two MPs with the delegation to India.

The report discussed various studies conducted by Indian organisations and said, "There is no major change visible in the hydro-morphological aspect in the project area."

It says that the Indian authority has for the first time handed over a booklet with detailed information and data about the project to the team. And the foreign and power minister of India have promised to give any information or data about hydrology, topography, environment of the project if Bangladesh asks for.

The report mentioned constitution of a specialist committee to study the information and data about the project.

India had already said on a number of occasions the dam would not withhold water, but environmentalists and the people of Bangladesh, as well as Manipur state, remain concerned over the impact of the projected dam in vulnerable downstream areas.

PM stresses negotiation on Tipai dam issue

Star Online Report

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today reiterated in the parliament that her government would not make any concession that may harm Bangladesh’s interests through construction of Tipaimukh dam by India.

Responding to a supplementary question from ex-Law Minister Abdul Matin Khasru, Hasina said the government has decided to constitute an expert committee to monitor the situation.

The prime minister expressed firm optimism that her government will settle the issue of Tipaimukh dam through discussion with India.

She said India assured the parliamentary delegation that visited the Tipaimukh-dam site that the dam was designed to produce hydroelectricity and reduce the intensity of floods.

“Instead of getting locked in arguments, we better resolve the problem through discussion. I’ve firm conviction that any problem could be resolved through discussion," she said.

"We had settled the Ganges water-sharing issue through negotiation with New Delhi and signed an agreement for 30 years on the sharing of waters of the Ganges. So I firmly believe that we can resolve any problem through negotiation.

"We already decided to form an expert committee on the issue and negations will also continue with India," she added.

Time yet to come to raise Tipai issue at UN : Razzak

Staff Reporter

October 10, 2009

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Water Resources Abdur Razzak yesterday said time has not yet come to raise the Taipaimukh Dam issue at the United Nations.

He made the observation while briefing reporters at the Media Centre in Sangsad Bhaban after a meeting of the Standing Committee.

"There is no need to go to the United Nations with the Tipaimukh issue," Abdur Razzak, said.

He said the Indian Prime Minister at a UN function in New York assured Bangladesh that they would not take any initiative that may be harmful to Bangladesh.

Besides, he said the Indian Foreign Minister and the Power Minister also gave assurances to the parliamentary team headed by him during its visit to New Delhi that India would not do anything which could affect Bangladesh.

Abdur Razzak said Indian side provided them information and data on the proposed dam and assured providing more information in future.

Asked to comment on the progress following the visit before three months, Razzak said they had to take time to submit reports of the team due to non-cooperation of the opposition. The report on the visit to Tipaimukh site was submitted before the House on October 7.

Razzak said the opposition lawmakers should join the session and speak on the issue if they have anything to say.

The report suggested formation of a special team which would work on the issue so that Indian government cannot do anything harmful for Bangladesh through the project in future.

Replying to a question, Abdur Razzak termed the Ganges Barrage project an appropriate step.

Emphasising the need for implementing the Ganges Barrage project he said Kushtia, Mathabhanga and Rajshahi irrigation projects would face serious impacts, if the barrage is not constructed.

He said the government is communicating with international agencies to mobilise funds for implementing the project.

The meeting was informed that connection between Rajbari and Sujanagar of Pabna has been selected as a possible site for the proposed Ganges Barrage project.

The project cost which was estimated at Tk 2,000 crore in 1996 would increase in present context.

Source: The New Nation:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tipaimukh Dam: A threat to Bangladesh

Prof M Aktarul Islam Chowdhury

Tipaimukh hydraulic dam (THD) to be constructed by our giant neighbor India in the upstream at a distance of 200km (direct distance 100 km) from Amalshid border of Jakigang of Sylhet district of Bangladesh followed by Fulertal Barrage in 100 km downstream of Tipaimukh dam and 100 upstream of Bangladesh border to divert the water to Indian Province Assam is a stern threat to the existence of Bangladesh hydrodynamically, geo-morphologically, geographically, tectonically-seismically, structurally, ecologically, bio-diversically, anthropologically, agriculturally, socially, culturally, economically, financially causing not only environmental hazard but also socio-economic and health risks to the mass people of Bangladesh from all walks of life .

Throughout the world, 263 trans-boundary (passed through more than one countries bordering geographically) rivers and lakes spread of which 57 trans-boundary rivers are located in Bangladesh of which 54 rivers are trans-boundary with India. About 45000 large dams extended over 140 countries of the world. India constructed more than 6000 dams of which more than 50 dams are constructed by our Giant Neighbor India on 35 trans-boundary rivers between Bangladesh and India without bothering Bangladesh, violating International River Laws and without any negotiation with downstream Bangladesh.

Dams in USA: A total of 75,000, including 6575 large dams; 2400 privately owned hydropower dams; no new large dams in recent years; 100s of dams removed since 1999; plan to remove about 10,000 dams by 2010.

Dams in India: As per CWC (1994), a total of 4291 large dams in operation (3159 in Maha, Guj, MP); over 50% constructed in 1971-90; a total of 695 dams under construction; 22 dams are being constructed in the north-eastern seven sister provinces of India.

India misuses all of these dams withdrawing unlimited waters in up-stream violating international laws and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreements, treaties between the trans-boundary countries. Consequently environment of Bangladesh are at the extreme risks.

Recently Tipaimuk dam on the Barak being constructed by India is the threat to the existence of Bangladesh in the train of environmental havoc and disaster to lean the bio-diversity and wetlands of north-eastern Bangladesh specially in the Sylhet basin.

History of India with Bangladesh is not optimistic rather crucial, and ironic due to illogical withdrawal of water from Ganges in dry season violating conditions of signed treaty & international laws and again flooding Bangladesh releasing gigantic amount of water opening all the gates of Farakka dam in rainy season. Same is the case between India and Nepal.

Bangladesh will face a lot of problems specially in dry seasons in the form of desertification and the severe flooding in the rainy seasons due to release of huge amount of water for the last three decades.

An ironic, sarcastic and double-crossing man-made river-killer Tipaimukh dam by Giant Neighbor Iindia to kill the mighty rivers, streams and canals; dry up haors, swamps and other wetlands of its North-eastern region of Bangladesh.

Features of Tipaimukh Dam: the construction on the river Barak will be completed in 2011; it is rock dam located at the village of Tipaimukh; the THD is being constructed with an objective of holding water, generating 1500 MW electricity, flood control, and irrigation; cost is about 9000 Indian Rupees; length of the dam 390 m, breadth 162.8 m and height 178 m located at 108 m above the sea level storing 16 bcm water.

Environmental impacts of the dam will include: Increase the frequency of very large and small floods; Severity of flash flood in pre-monsoon due to the heavy rainfall in the hilly region due to the instantaneous release of water; Devastating Floods in rainy season due to the release of surplus water in every year .

Decrease of water flow in Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna; Extreme low flow in of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna during dry season after commissioning are expected to low as 10% of the flow of before dam construction. If Fulertal barrage is constructed, water availability in Surma-Kushiara will be severely threatened.

Siltation in the river beds of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna due to suppression of sediment flow.

Possible morphological change of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna causing change in the river course by probable severe earthquake of Richter scale greater than 8 due to dam failure in the earthquake prone area of Tipaimukh and redistribution of water flow, siltation etc.

Change in water quality (turbidity, dissolved gases, minerals, metals etc.) of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna.

Ultimate killing of the rivers in downstream Bangladesh; THD will kill the rivers Surma, Kushiara, Kalani, Meghna and their tributaries and distributaries.

Desertification and hydrological draughtness in seven districts Sylhet, Moulavibazar, Sunamgang, Habigang, Kishorgang, Netrokona & Brahmanbaria at the first stage; . Desertification and draughtness cause the disticts of Narshingdi, Munshigang, Narayangang, Comilla, Chandpur, Shariatpur, Lakhmipur. Barishal at the long term. Desertification and hydrological draughtness will be more severe if Fulertal Barrage is constructed.

Salinity intrusion in the new areas and increase in salinity in existing saline zone of lower Meghna due to the suppression of freshwater flow specially in dry season that will advance to upstream day by day causing severe crisis in water use in drinking, domestic and agricultural purpose, reducing soil fertility affecting crop production; saline water will reach to Sylhet within 15 years of commission of dam.

Loss of fertility of the soil causing severe declination of crops, fruits etc.

Reduction of wetland in haor areas dropping fresh water, curtailing fish due to food shortage, disappearance of migratory birds, dying trees, herbs, shrubs among others.

Harsh effects on swamp forest of haor area leading to loss of animal, plant, birds, reptile and fish biodiversity and ultimate destruction of swamp forest in wetlands.

There will be severe effects in river navigability of Surma-Kushiara-Kalani-Meghna shrinking potential water transport route; reduce the production of paddy and vegetables in north-eastern Bangladesh; cause destruction of fish habitats in rivers, streams and canals leading to tremendous reduction in the availability of fresh water fishes effecting aquatic ecology severely.

It will also cause deterioration of ecosystem (both terrestrial and aquatic); Decrease of growth rate in all species; Plankton, flora and fauna will be under serious stress; decrease of groundwater recharge (one-third/fourth of GW recharged by rain water and rest by flood water, if water flow is reduced by 30 to 50%, normal flood will be disappeared hampering GW recharge) severely; affect forest bio-diversity decreasing the forest of both of the plain land and hilly areas ; Ultimately forests will be destructed. It will increase the probability of disaster in downstream Bangladesh if the dam collapses due to any kind of failure and extremely large down-flow stored water; aeriously affect irrigation for Boro production at late rainy season when water flow will stop. Again if water flow increases by 110% in winter, it will affect boro paddy and vegetables causing food crisis.

The risk of earthquake will increase due to the Tipaimukh dam on the seismic fault line of three tectonic plates. In 1897, Shilong earthquake of 8.7 scale changed the river course of Bramahputra. Tipaimukh will provide 500 feet deep reservoir that will exert more pressure of 160 ton per square meter that will increase the earthquake risk tremendously.

The dam will adversely affect the social life of north-eastern region of Bangladesh specially Sylhet region and lead to loss of livelihoods and habitats of a large number of families.

Bangladesh is already under threat of climate change due to the continuous emission of GHG by the fossil fuel from the industries of the USA - the largest industrialized country of the world, China - the most populous country of the world, India - the mighty Giant neighbor of Bangladesh.

If the Tipaimukh impacts are added the problems already aggravated by the Farakka barrage in the Western and South-western parts of Bangladesh would further worsen.

Things that need to be done on an urgent basis include: Effective bilateral negotiation, common understanding and mutually benefited collaboration through realistic and practicable (that can be implement) water sharing of trans-boundary rivers in black and white (not in paper and agreement only) playing intelligent , tactful and diplomatic role in Bangladesh-India Joint River Commission (JRC) from Bangladesh part like the Indus River between India and Pakistan and many neighboring countries of the world.

Presenting the research study based data by experienced and real expert groups in the JRC meeting with strong arguments, reasons, clues and points etc.

Members of the expert group should be selected from expertise specialists and renown researchers of the specific fields.

Significant number of prior studies to assess the actual scenario of the trans-boundary rivers at the crucial and strategic points applying proper technology and knowhow, economic feasibility, financial viability and equi-participation from all walks of life of the society as well as the scientific and authentic study for flow data, water level data of river, water level data of groundwater incorporated with latest sophisticated ultrasonic mechanism, advanced computer modeling and information technology, before going to JRC meeting.

Academicians, researchers, experts as well as engineers should come forward to raise and open the adverse environmental, socio-economic and health impacts of Tipaimukh in the daily life, life of people in the north-eastern region specially Sylhet basin.

Engineers, experts and technologists should explain hydrodynamic, geo-morphological, geographical, tectonic, seismic, structural, ecological, bio-diversical, anthropological, agricultural, social, cultural, economical threats of Tipaimukh the people of all walks of life for effectively supporting the Government on the issue .

Lawyers, all type of environmentalists, Civil society, media men (both of print and news media), teli-media, teachers community, intellectuals, social workers, NGOs, public representatives such as parliament members/mayor and counselors of city corporations and municipalities/ chairmen and members of Union Councils should come forward and create awareness among the masses.

The government should the raise the trans-boundary issues like Farakka, and specially the crucial trans-boundary issue if Tipaimukh at international forums such as the UN with the collective efforts and proper cooperation of the opposition.

Bangladesh Government should handle the trans-boundary river issues like Tipaimukh issue very tactfully to realise the interest of the country.

In addition to all kinds of Government initiatives the private sector, NGOs, media groups, civil society, academia, research organizations, experts, intellects, and specialists of trans-boundary arena should raise their voice. The Government should play vital role inside the country as well as in bilateral joint river commission and multilateral and international forums.

(The writer is the senior-most faculty and head, civil and environmental engineering department Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, E-mail: aic_cee @


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Efforts on to intensify movement on Tipaimukh issue

New Nation Report

Remaining silent for some days on account of the holy Ramadan, The people of the greater Sylhet region are taking preparation under the banner of different organisations to intensify movement on the Tipaimukh Dam issue. For this they are chalking out a number of programmes that include boat race in the river of Kushiara.

The Sylhet unit of Bangladesh Jamat-e-Islami (JI) will organise the boat march program as a mark of protesting the construction of a dam at Tipaimukh, Monipur, India over river Borak. The party had already gave a dress rehearsal of the unique program in river Surma passing through Sylhet in which the chief of BJI Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami was present.

Former MP Principal Fariduddin Chowdhury said, the boat march will take place in the middle of October. All the top leaders of the party will participate. Besides, Sylhet Division Development Action Council had already organised various programmes on the issue. It propelled a 'Long March' in August, ending near Zakiganj border.

Advocate Abed Reza, President of the organisation said, they favour tougher movement in order to draw international attention. 'Unless India does not stop the construction work, we shall continue our movement,' added Abed Reza. Further, the expatriates from Sylhet have expressed their solidarity with any action that serves the interest of the people of Sylhet vis-a-vis the country.


Tipaimukh Dam, a potential seismic bomb for South Asia

In the light of findings of Sichuan earthquake, seismic vulnerability, tectonic plate formation and the presence of geological faults, the Tipaimukh Dam is technically and financially not viable. In this scenario, pursuing a project blindly would be not only sheer waste of public money but also a potential seismic bomb for the region,

Arshad H Abbasi

The earthquake that rocked north-eastern India on September 22, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and was of a reasonably long duration, was the fifth in the past 40 days. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, north-eastern India is bracketed in the highest seismic zone of South Asia, where the three Eurasian, Indian, and Myanmar tectonic plates collide in a subduction mechanism. With this unique tectonic setting and coupled with massive geo-tectonic movements recorded during the past several years, geo-scientists have placed this region in the most fragile zone in the seismic map of the continent. North-eastern India has experienced some of the most devastating earthquakes during the past hundred years. Statistics shows that between 1897 and 1952, there were 44 earthquakes that measured 6.5 or more on the Richter scale. Similarly, between 1953 and 1992, the region had 21 earthquakes of similar intensity. Ignoring the geological and seismic vulnerability and recent warning of the rapid melting of the Himalayas, India is going for a 162.8-metre high dam on the river Barak of north-eastern India, with a storage capacity of 15,900 million cubic metres.

Besides this seismic vulnerability with its hidden dangers of a massive dam break, it has also sparked another serious controversy on water sharing between India and Bangladesh in relation to the Farakka Barrage conflict. India is taking advantages of its regional hegemony and geo-position as upper riparian, causing colossal damage to the Bangladeshi agro-economy by unilateral and disproportionate diversion of the Ganges water by the barrage. The case of the Tipaimukh dam is, however, different from the Farakka Barrage, as it would have a huge storage reservoir.

The geological constraints of the dam site have been reported by Dr Soibam Ibotombi of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Manipur, India. According to the report, the tectonic features of the dam site have developed geological faults and fractures that might undergo strike-slip and extensional movements if loaded with the weight of the dam alone. Therefore, these geological faults could be further displaced with accelerated rate by any moderate and large earthquakes and if the dam axis is displaced by a few centimetres a massive disaster leading to huge loss of lives and property in downstream areas could occur.

Putting all seismic and geological constraint aside, no heed is being paid to the protest of local communities and lower riparian Bangladesh and completely ignoring the UN convention on international watercourses. The enormous weight, about 15.9 billion tonnes of water, would bear on the substrata of the dam site could not have been taken into consideration, as scientists today have identified more than 100 cases of earthquakes triggered by reservoirs.

The most serious precedence of dam or reservoir-induced seismicity is the 7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake in May 2008, linked to the construction of the Zipingpu Dam. The case of Sichuan earthquake was presented at the American Geophysical Union and, findings also published in the Chinese Geology and Seismology Journal. The devastating earthquake killed 68,000 people and left about 11 million people homeless. China is spending $146.5 billion to rebuild areas ravaged by the earthquake. In a recent study, it was found that the Zipingpu Dam project was the cause of this devastation. Earthquakes were very unusual for the area as no previous seismic activities were ever recorded.

The Indian authorities ought to remember that triggered by an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude caused because of the filling of a dam flattened the village of Koynanagar in Maharashtra, western India, on December 11, 1967, killing around 180 people, injuring 1,500 and rendering thousands homeless. The dam was seriously damaged and power cut off to Bombay, causing panic among its populace, who felt the quake 230 kilometres from its epicentre. The epicentre of the tremor and numerous fore and aftershocks were all either near the Koyna Dam or under its reservoir.

At a seminar on ‘water dispute in South Asia’, held in Dhaka on August 18-19, in which the water resources secretary of the Bangladesh government disclosed that the Tipaimukh dam was conceived in 1955 but the then erstwhile Pakistani government never agreed to its construction. But, immediately after the independence of Bangladesh, the Indian prime minister rushed to Dhaka to set the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission and in the very first meeting of the commission, India informed Bangladesh of the Tipaimukh project. And, since the same meeting Bangladesh continuously has been asking India for data on the Tipaimukh Dam project. However, the Indian authorities did not share any study report or design on the dam. This attitude of India shows that there is no technical or scientific study detail behind the theoretically redundant project to share with all stakeholders except agenda to impose its hegemony over South Asia.

The height of the Zipingpu dam is 150 metres and total weight of filled water was 1.12 billion tonnes, thirteen times less than the proposed capacity of the Tipaimukh Dam. Above all, its sub-geological features were more stable than those of the Tipaimukh dam site. In the light of findings of Sichuan earthquake, seismic vulnerability, tectonic plate formation and the presence of geological faults, the Tipaimukh Dam is technically and financially not viable. In this scenario, pursuing a project blindly would be not only sheer waste of public money but also a potential seismic bomb for the region. The objective of a dam which is to control floods and provide hydroelectric power generation could also be achieved by adopting alternative methods.

There is no doubt that frequency and intensity of floods are on the rise in the region but its root cause is massive deforestation, compounded with rapid population growth and uncontrolled development in Brahmaputra Basin. Because of increased warming of the Himalayas, the solution to floods in the Basin lie in integrated watershed management. This would necessitate immediate afforestation to increase vegetative cover and coupled with rainwater harvesting techniques it could achieve the same objective with less investment and above all without disturbing the ecology of a fragile and fractured region. Similarly, hydro electric power could be generated by run-of-river option requiring minimal water pondage. Indian authorities need to shelve Tipaimukh dam project immediately to avert the lurking danger of a massive earthquake in the region.

Arshad H Abbasi is a visiting research fellow at the SDPI-Islamabad and conducted research on earthquake 2005 with collaboration of the University of Zurich Switzerland-Southern.