United efforts to secure water of The Teesta urged

United efforts to secure water of The Teesta urged

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Speakers at a seminar held at the Jatiya Press Club today underlined the need for united efforts of all to ensure equitable sharing of the Teesta river to keep it flowing from its source to the outfall.
The seminar on the State of the Teesta, organised by the International Farakka Committee – international water rights activist group – observed that all governments in the past failed to play their due roles in securing Bangladesh’s rights on the common rivers. The lone exception in this regard was the 1977 Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, they observed.The speakers said that the solution of problems of rivers lay in regional, basin-wide integrated management as supported by all international, river and environmental conventions, rules and conferences.
Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, founder of Gonoshasthya Knedra was the main speaker at the seminar where Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener, Nagorik Oikya was the guest of honour. Dr. SI Khan, former adviser to the UN on water and environment, presented the keynote paper. Another paper was presented by Mostafa Kamal Majumder, editor, GreenWatch Dhaka. Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad presided over the function.
The Speakers said that the drying up of the Teesta in its Bangladesh part posed a serious threat, but so far no united stand has been taken up to face the situation. A status paper on the Teesta was presented at the seminar to help the process.
They said that the common rivers have created Bangladesh, the largest delta in the world. This land cannot survive if the flows of the rivers are cut off arbitrarily. Damages to environment and ecosystem caused by diversion of rivers would affect farming, fishing, livelihood and force people to migrate.
They said if the ways to resolution of the problem of water of common of rivers through dialogue look closed, the government should take up the issue to the 6th committee of the United Nations.
Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury said that Bangladesh as a nation of 16 million should assert its position to put pressure for solution of the problem of diversion of common rivers at upstream. He said that Bangladesh’s water rights cannot be secured by following a subservient policy in respect of our biggest neighbour.
He said Bangladesh should ask for better bargain instead of giving away things even before the other side ask for those. Diversion of water of common rivers was such a gigantic problem for Bangladesh that the should be demonstrations and gerao programmes every month.
He said that one long march and half-hearted movement would not solve the problem of common rivers, the opposition should embark on strong movement to press home the point. There is a need for continuous movement to assert Bangladesh’s sovereignty in order to do away with infringement of water rights, he said.
Zafarullah Chowdhury said that the present Prime Minister of Nepal was called the poorest PM of the world, his party’s win was not welcomed by some neighbours. There was an incident of detaining a member of a foreign intelligence agency also in Nepal, but their government strongly opposed his deportation, and instead decided to settle the matter by themselves. In case of Bangladesh an alleged foreign secret service agent as hauled up and taken to India by its secret servicemen. Bangladesh came to know about the incident from Indian newspapers, he diplored.
Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya, said that the question of national existence lay with the solution of problem of common rivers. Gentlemanlike talk would not do to drive home the point.
Referring to the warnings uttered by some leaders of the ruling party in case there was violence centring on BNP’ long march on 22-23 April, he said the ruling party should instead have congratulated the BNP for undertaking the programme. He strongly criticised those who called the long march an anti-India activity and said they should instead settle in that country.
Criticised a stand taken by a leader of the ruling party that the Indian government could not respond to the problem of the Teesta because their preoccupation with the present elections. Did the elections stop their decision to divert nearly all water of the river; or from playing the drama of releasing 3000 cusecs of water on the day of BNP’s long March. They talk of stopping fundamentalism and extremism in Bangladesh, but fail to do so in their own country. The government used these slogans for mere political advantage.
The Nagorik Oikya leader recalled the great contributions of India towards Bangladesh’s liberation, but said Bangladesh cannot give up the right on common rivers which should maintain normal flow, because ‘we will not be alive without the rivers’.
He said that water experts of West Bengal now say that the Farrakka barrage was of no use for Kokkata port, though the key objective was to keep the same navigable. Similarly the Gazaldoba bridge would prove useless in the long run. If necessary we are ready to talk with the civil society of our neighbouring country to solve the issue of common rivers. Manna called for a token united programme of all on rivers and requested the International Farakka Committee to take the lead in this regard.

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