Body like Mekong Commission must for integrated management of common rivers: IFC NY | Greenwatch Dhaka | The leading online daily of Bangladesh

Body like Mekong Commission must for integrated management of common rivers: IFC NY

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Leaders of the International Farakka Committee (IFC), New York at a news conference held at Jackson Heights New York on called for joint basinwide integrated management of common rivers of South Asia and called for a regional framework modelled on the Mekong Commission of East Asia or the Danube Commission of Europe for the purpose.
The news conference was addressed by Atiqur Rahman Salu, chairman, Sayed Tipu Sultan, secretary general and Ataur Rahman Ata, organising secretary of the IFC New York among others.
Referring to a call made by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for construction of the proposed Ganges Barrage under joint venture with India, the IFC New York leaders said the whole world was now for ensuring ecological flow of the rivers before allocating water for different uses because the rivers need minimum flows in their channels to remain alive. Services of rivers can be expected only if they remain alive they said.The IFC New York leaders said that as the country situated at the lowest botton of the Ganges and Brahmaputra basin Bangladesh should take the initiative to ensure integrated regional management of common rivers of South Asia by enlisting the participation of all coriparian countries including, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China.
A written statement read out at the news conference read: “The Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has recently called for construction of the  proposed Ganges Barrage in Bangladesh under joint venture with India. The premier made this proposal when the outgoing Indian High Commissioner of India made a farewell call on her in the last week of October. The PM thanked India for its cooperation in bilateral relations.“The call has been made by the Bangladesh Prime Minister at a time when neighbouring India want’s Bangladesh’s cooperation for fair management of Brahmaputra river, as PR China constructed dams at upstream of the river to generate hydroelectricity. In reaching an understanding with China, India wants Bangladesh to be on its side.
“The proposal made by PM Sheikh Hasina carries broad hints of bringing India to some sort of responsibgility for the proposed Ganges Barrage by making it partner of the same. We want to say, this proposal may be made more sharp. Just like India wants Bangladesh to be with her in securing just management of the Brahmaputra, Bangladesh should seek cooperation of all co-riparian countries of the common rivers for integrated management of common rivers.
“The Bangladesh part of the Ganges River faces death because of diversion of water from upper catchments. For some years the river Teesta is facing the same experience. Construction of dams or barrages on 52 common rivers that flow through Bangladesh have threatened the existence of these flows. The concern expressed by India regarding the dams being constructed at the upper chatchments of the Brahmaputra has ventilated decades-old grievance of Bangladesh.
“A gift of rivers, Bangladesh cannot sustain if the rivers are diverted. This plain truth is not properly understood in Bangladesh even though the conscientious people in India are fully aware. This is because the data and information about the rivers in Bangladesh were kept in lockers of the Joint Rivers Commission instead of serving those to the people for the last 43 years. In India public debate on the data and information on rivers are held, but not in Bangladesh. Thus the understanding of the adverse impacts of the unavailability of water remains restricted only those who face the same.
“May we tell our Prime Minister that we should be very vocal about the fact that the deltaic land of Bangladesh would lose its sustainable existence if the riverine country is deprived of the services of rivers by diversion of their water through the River Interlinking Plan. The dynamic delta-building activity of the rivers would change to sea erosion of Bangladesh’s coasts. The rivers would dry up and die. The death of rivers in the lowest catchments of the rivers would cause their death at upper catchments too, because water diverted to dry zones from the flood plains would be soaked disturbing the hydrological cycle. The entire Himalayan region including the Ganges-Brahmaputra basins will face environmental disasters as a result.
“Already, due to withdrawal of water the Ganges-Kobadak project has turned dead. Khuna and Rajshahi regions are facing environmental degradation. Similar situation is being faced in the Teesta dependent areas which no longer remain green in the dry season. Over-extraction of ground water for irrigation has led to the countrywide huge arsenic
problem which is called the biggest environmental disaster in the world.
“The people of Bangladesh are not against economic development and are not for conservation of the rivers only for the pristine natural beauty they create and nourish. None says that the river water should not be touched or developed. Our only point is that the rivers would have to be kept alive if their services are to be harnessed. Before allocating water for different sectors, one should ensure how much water should continue to flow in the rivers to keep those alive. In other words there is the need for integrated basinwide regional management of the rivers, which is now emphasised all over the world.
“Integrated basinwide management of rivers calls for cooperation and participation of all the co-riparian countries. There is thus an urgent need for a call for cooperation and participation of Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal and China in the integrated and basinwide management of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges. It has become urgent to create structures by following the models of the Mekong River Commission of East Asia and the Danube River Commission of Europe for integrated basinwide management of rivers of the region.
“There is no other alternative to integrated regional management to the rivers to keep those alive. As the country lying at the lowest bottom of the basins of the rivers Bangladesh should take the lead to call other countries to cooperate with and participate in such a process,” they adde, according to a message received in Dhaka.

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