TODAY -

Tipaimukh multi-purpose project Bangla Opp leader Khaleda writes to Singh
Source: The Sangai Express / PTI / Anisur Rahman

Dhaka, November 23 2011: Voicing concern over the proposed Tipaimukh dam in Manipur, Bangladesh's main Opposition BNP chief and former premier Khaleda Zia today sent a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, requesting him not to take any "unilateral" decision on the cross-border hydro-power project.

Zia has sent a letter to Singh "urging him not to take any unilateral decision" on the Tipaimukh dam, BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters.

He said Zia also urged New Delhi to carry out a joint survey before proceeding with the mega project to build a hydroelectric dam on the common Barak river in Manipur as it might "endanger the lives of 3 crore people of Bangladesh" .

Earlier in a public rally yesterday, Zia demanded India immediately "discontinue the construction of Tipaimukh dam" while her party called a general strike in northeastern Sylhet, the entry point of the river to Bangladesh.



Anti-Tipaimukh dam protestors taking out a rally
Anti-Tipaimukh dam protestors taking out a rally-File photo


The development came after Dhaka sought details of Indian steps on Tipaimukh dam "in full transparency" as New Delhi confirmed that it signed a 'Promoter's Agreement' to install a Joint Venture Company (JVC) for the project.

"Bangladesh would hope that the government of India would share all relevant details of the proposed project in full transparency ...

This would be critical in avoiding any gap in understanding or allay concerns in Bangladesh," said a Foreign Office statement issued here last evening.

It said Dhaka would also "like to underscore the need for prior consultation before initiating any intervention on common rivers like the Barak" .

Dhaka's reaction came hours after India's External Affairs Ministry issued a statement, saying "the only recent development pertaining to the project has been the signing of a 'Promoter's Agreement' with the purpose of setting up a Joint Venture Company (JVC)" .

The Tipaimukh issue has visibly dominated the Bangladeshi media for the past several days with the reports on the development sparking reactions from politicians and experts.

"Tipaimukh agreement debunks 'friendly India' myth," read the headline of an editorial carried by 'New Age' while the 'Daily Star' published a front page analysis saying "without any environmental impact assessment on Bangladesh, New Delhi keeps assuring Dhaka that the Tipaimukh hydroelectric project will not harm the latter's interests" .

"Incidentally, the agreement on the controversial Tipaimukh project came barely seven weeks after Hasina and Manmohan had signed in Dhaka the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development ...

that says: To enhance cooperation in sharing of the waters of common rivers, both parties will explore the possibilities of common basin management of common rivers for mutual benefit..." the Age editorial said.

Experts have long been expressing their concern that the cross-border structure in India would expose downstream Indian and Bangladeshi regions to severe environmental threats while a possible earthquake in the tremor-prone areas with higher intensity could cause unpredictable damage.

Leading water expert Professor Ainun Nishat said it was a common characteristic of the dams that they increased water inflow in summer while "sudden release of water during April-May (harvesting season) would cause flash floods in the Sylhet region surely hampering agriculture." "From engineering point of view, definitely not on environmental consideration, Tipaimukh dam could be useful for Bangladesh and could play a role in flood control if it were a joint project and managed in line with Bangladesh's requirements," he said.

"But we know neither their construction plan nor their management plan" .


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