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.

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