Tipaimukh Barrage / Dam – Bangladesh & India

The present Awami League govt. have started with some of the greater issues but unfortunately they are getting reluctant to their commitment day by day. Whereby the Government of the people was their slogan, gradually it has turned to the disguise. Tipaimukh, a debated issue to both Bangladesh, and inhabitants of Tripura, is the then not been given its proper acknowledgement. The govt. had shown flawless tears with a hue and cry for this public issue, by sending the parliamentary committed, and crated another issue for ambiguity, but the later part will clarify their deeds, how much public opinion is reflected herewith.
The Tipaimukh barrage is scheduled to be completed in 2012 is supposed to provide 1500 megawatts of hydel power to the Indian state of Assam but in return it is going to bring about a major disaster for Bangladesh, practically contributing to drying up of 350 km long Surma and 110 km long Kushiara rivers which water most of the north-eastern regions of Bangladesh. The Tipaimukh barrage is going to seriously affect not only agriculture in large portions of Bangladesh, particularly in winter, but is also going to bring about negative ecological, climatic and environmental changes of vast areas in both Bangladesh and India.
It’s not just this one Indian barrage that is a source of considerable concern and trepidation in Bangladesh; in 1976 India put into operation the Farakka barrage which more or less destroyed the Ganges-Brahamaputra basin, most of which lies in the deltaic plains of Bangladesh and in 1990 India also constructed a barrage along the Teesta river thereby virtually making ineffective much of the Teesta barrage project constructed down-stream in Bangladesh to support irrigation and agriculture in the north-west region of the country. What is even more worrying is that India has evolved plans to divert waters, from the north of the country to its drought-prone southern and eastern states, of some 53 river which flow from India to Bangladesh.  Bangladesh shares a common border with India in the west, north and east and with Myanmar in the southeast. These borders cut across 57 rivers which discharge through Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal in the south. The upstream courses of these rivers traverse India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. Trans-boundary flows, which enter Bangladesh from remote catchments extending short distance to thousands of kilometers upstream, are the important source of water resources. Among the trans-boundary rivers, the ones most affected by Indian barrages and their related systems of canals, reservoirs and irrigation schemes are Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Teesta. Although the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have a water sharing agreement for the Ganges, there are none for the other 53 rivers that cross the border. With the Tepaimukh barrage now underway, India seems to be going ahead with its mega-project of diverting river waters from its north to its south and east, thereby putting Bangladesh’s very survival at stake.  As to how the AL government is going to handle this issue of our survival through water-sharing of common rivers between India and Bangladesh is difficult to say because right now the government is suffering from a sense of complacency and deja vu over “friendship” with India forgetting the fact that India is a state with interests to maintain and that Bangladesh too is a state with equally pressing imperatives to survive as such. India is taking unilateral decisions about matters which affect Bangladesh’s core interests and if these cannot be resolved bilaterally, Bangladesh must look at options of going to multilateral forums such as the UN to get its right not only recognized but also implemented. International laws dealing with water-sharing of common rivers and sources are ambiguous, unclear and contentious and so, Bangladesh ought to vigorously pursue these matters, perhaps even garner international support for a change in those laws dealing with water-sharing – this international dimension is a crucial factor affecting the management of the trans-boundary river systems. There is thus, no scope for Bangladesh to be deflected from this core issue of water-sharing notwithstanding Indian deceitful and diversionary insistence and propaganda on “terrorists and transit”.

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