National unity against ILR to protect Bangladesh’s rivers urged

National unity against ILR to protect Bangladesh’s rivers urged

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Water experts and activists on Friday underscored the need for raising awareness about harmful effects of the Indian government plan to interlink the rivers of Assam, Bengal and Bihar and take water to the south of their country, and urged the government to raise the issue in the sixth committee of the United Nations if not resolved mutually.
Addressing a roundtable on India’s River Interlinking Plan and Water Management in Bangladesh at the National Press Club they said after the disastrous experiences of the Ganges that has been diverted, Teesta is also being diverted for the past few years without taking care of life of the river itself inside Bangladesh. Not Manosh an Sankosh two other tributaries of the Brahmaputra are being diverted towards West seriously reducing the flow of the Brahmaputra which is the major source of dry season water flow in Bangladesh.They said if even water is diverted from the main flow of the Brahmaputra then Bangladesh’s identity as a riverine country will be gone and saline intrusion through the Meghna-Brahmaputra estuary would be more serious than those coming through the Ganges estuary.
The roundtable was organised by the South Asia Youth for Peace and Prosperity Society (Saypps). Mostafa Kamal Majumder, editor, GreenWatch Dhaka, presented a paper at the roundtable which was also addressed by Engr Shahidul Hassan, president, Bangladesh Water Partnership, Dr. SI Khan, former adviser to the UN on water and environment, Engr Inamul Huq, former DG, Warpo, and Sajjad Hossain of Saypps among others.
The speakers deplored the lack of transparency about the developments taking place in the water sector and said while there was open discussion between the government, experts and activists in India, water data and information in Bangladesh is kept under lock and key of the Dhaka office of the Joint Rivers Commission.
In the absence of open discussion, debate and dialogue, there has not emerged informed knowledge among the people about the water sector and most people still hold the layman view that there is excess water in the rivers flowing through Bangladesh, that can be dispensed with. But even the people of Assam are against transfer of water from their region to other river basins. Their argument is ‘in nature there is nothing in excess, as everything exists in perfect equilibrium.’
The people of Bangladesh did not believe that water of rivers cannot be harnessed just to conserve their pristine beauty, but should be developed and managed in an integrated way, first keeping in mind the lives of the rivers themselves.
If rivers are diverted through dry terrains forcing them to move away from the floodplains – that sustain them during the dry season – they would rather be ‘killed’ as an Indian water expert says.
They took note of the fact that no treaty on the Teesta was signed despite the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and so many diplomatic pleasant words spelt out by Mamata Banarjee. Fact remains that during the long marches organised by opposition political parties in early 2015 there was a sudden surge of water in the Teesta in Bangladesh but for a few days proving the diversion of the water.
Without the rivers the environment, ecosystem, life and livelihood in Bangladesh will be seriously jeopardized and this would not be beneficial even to the nearest neighbour – India. They thus called for a greater national unity on water issues to protect the rivers, life and livelihood in the country. – Staff Reporter

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