Mobilise people, force Govt to act against river linking: IFC meeting told

Mobilise people, force Govt to act against river linking: IFC meeting told

CPB leader Haider Akbar Khan Rano addressing the opinion exchange

CPB leader Haider Akbar Khan Rano addressing the opinion exchange

The need for greater awareness and mass mobilisation to create pressure on the government for preventing the transfer of Brahmaputra water to India’s south through the river interlinking project was emphasised at a largely attended opinion exchange meeting in Dhaka on Saturday.
The all-party opinion exchange meeting was organised by the International Farakka Committee (IFC) an environmental organisation working as international water rights watch group, at the National Press Club auditorium.They said, the common rivers that run through Bangladesh to the Bay of Bengal are not only having transboundary basins but are also international in their geographical coverage, and thus need regional and basinwide integrated management to keep those alive and get their services, the speakers said.
Government minister for civil aviation and tourism Rashed Khan Menon said the river interlinking project has to be opposed, because if implemented it would turn Bangladesh into a barren land. Firm commitment from the Indian government should be obtained not to proceed with the plan, he said.
Presided over by IFC, New York president, Atiqur Rahman Salu, the function was also addressed by former minister and JP secretary general Mostafa Jamal Haider, CPB president Haider Akbar Khan Rano, founder of Gonoshasthya Kendro Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, water expert and Aaam Janata Party convener, Eng Inamul Huq, IFC Tangail leaders Khandakar Nazimuddin, Mahmudul Huq Sanu, Kazi Mostafa Kamal, Jatiya Tarun Sangha president Fazlul Huq among others.
Earlier the topic of discussion was introduced by Dr. SI Khan, sr vice president IFC Bangladesh, Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, president, IFC Bangladesh and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, coordinator of IFC. Awlad Hossain Khan, sr vice chairman IFC NY made the welcome address while Syed Irfanul Bari, general secretary, IFC Bangladesh gave the vote of thanks.
Rashed Khan Menon who is also the president of Workers Party of Bangladesh said that the movement against the ILR should get a universal character in Bangladesh by enlisting the participation of all parties to prevent it unitedly. Alongside this water experts and activists of India should be involved with the movement through track 2 negotiations. The people of neighbouring countries of India, Nepal, Bhutan and China should be involved in the process. We cannot wish away our neighbours as well as our position as a lower riparian, just like India is lower riparian to China, he said.
Menon said common rivers call for region and basin-based management, not country-based utilisation. Countries sharing common rivers elsewhere in the world were compelled to do this. We should work with all neighbours including China to protect the rivers, he added.
Haider Akbar Khan Rano, president, CPB who took part in the opinion exchange said the river interlinking project needs not only to be protested but also resisted politically because it is unthinkable that Bangladesh would be deprived of water that will be taken from Assam to Rajsthan, with dangerous consequences of an unrealistic plan. He urged the communist leaders of India to lend their support to the people in their plight for survival.
The CPB leader called for mass moblisation by taking inspirations from the long march of Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and the 2005 long march of IFC. He said that the government felt that it would be harmful for its position in power if it spoke against the Indian government plan. The people should exert pressure on the government to get the issue settles by taking it up with its Indian counterpart. If talks do not succeed to bring fruitful results the issue should be taken the 6th committee of the United Nations for a resolution, he added.
Mostafa Jamal Haider during the recent visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proved to be a good buyer, but the Bangladesh leadership failed to prove its salesmanship. Modi took everything by giving nothing, he alleged.
Underscoring the need for developing the relationship with the big neighbour on the basis of mutuality of interest he said that transit and corridor facilities should be made conditional to non-diversion of water of common rivers. There is no scope of politics of appeasement in this regard. Every step should be weighed in terms of gain or loss, he added.
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said that Bangladesh can never take a strong position vis-a-vis its neighbours without tackling its internal political situation where there was no freedom of speech and assembly. The opposition is also proving that it wants to bank on blessings from neighbours to get back to power, he said.
The IFC leaders explained how Brahmaputra is gradually going to face the fate of the Ganges as Teesta water is already being diverted while steps have been taken also to divert Manas and Sankos flowing from China-Bhutan into Bangladesh – all those tributaries of the largest river which accounts for 60 per cent of the dry season flow.
IFC chairman Atiqur Rahman Salu said IFC would support the government it its move to prevent diversion of water through river-linking which poses threat to the environment, life and livelihood in Bangladesh. The meeting in a resolution appreciated the government for protesting the move to construct 16 new barraged on the Ganges and the initiative taken to send note verbale against ILR. If talks do not yield results take the issue to the UN to protect the life and livelihood of the people, the resolution said.  – Staff Reporter


Comments are closed.