Dhaka, 02 September – Leaders of the International Farakka Committee (IFC), an environmental and water rights watch group, have extended their support to the recent demand made by Mr. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, India, to decommission the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges
which has caused devastating floods in his state by accumulating silt at its upstream. Mr. Nitish Kumar placed the demand before India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.In a joint statement leaders of IFC, New York, and IFC Bangladesh, said that the demand voiced by Mr. Nitish Kumar has proved, lately though, the justification of the stand taken by IFC three decades ago.
They said, being obstructed by the Farakka Barrage, the Ganges flow causes serious wet season floods in the Indian state of Bihar but denies normal flow to the river’s Bangladesh part on which one-third of the 16 crore population is dependent directly the entire population indirectly. Denial of even the minimum flow in the lean season has created a serious environmental disaster in Bangladesh. Water flow to the dried-up distributaries of the Ganges cannot be ensured even after years of capital dredging, they said.
The adverse effects, the diversion of flow of the river has caused, to the socio-economic, environmental, life and livelihood, biodiversity and the ecosystem in the Ganges-dependent areas in Bangladesh are clearly visible to any visitor. This year the opening of all the sluice gates of the Farakka Barrage to reduce the pressure of excessive flooding above the barrage, has caused serious excessive flooding in the Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj regions of Bangladesh. Abnornal floods created by onrush of water from upstream have caused serious damage to crops, homestead poultry and dwelling houses in Jessore and Khulna regions.
Water experts in India have lent their support to the demand for decommissioning of the Farakka Barrage as it has not served its purpose but rather created new problems. Through empirical research they have determined that the objective to improve navigability by flushing the Hoogly river has not been achieved at all. We welcome the water experts for their candid statement. While reiterating the demand for decommissioning the Farakka Barrage we also call for removal of structures built on all other common rivers to keep the rivers alive and flow to the sea and render their services to people along their banks.
The countries of the region should join each other to protect the common rivers by ensuring their basinwide, integrated and sustainable management, the IFC leaders added.
Those who made the statement are: Atiqur Rahman Salu, chairman, Awlad Hossain Khan, senior vice chairman, Syed Tipu Sultan, secretary general of IFC new York; Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, president, Dr. SI Khan, senior vice president, Syed Irfanul Bari, general secretary of IFC Bangladesh; and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, coordinator, IFC.