Vol. 4 Num 104 Mon. September 08, 2003  
Letters to Editor

River Inter-linking will bring disaster

With the implementation of such a project, which requires the withdrawal of water from their natural courses and common rivers, we believe that it would greatly harm not only the delicate ecology of Bangladesh (as well as neighbouring Indian states such as West Bengal, Assam etc.) but also its economy. It will put millions of people at risk.

It is also obvious that diversion of water from the rivers such as the Ganges and the Brahmaputra would drastically affect the agriculture of our land in the dry season in particular..

Further to this, the inter-linking of rivers is likely in some or other way to destroy UNESCO's world heritage sites in Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. Such sites are the Sundarbans (an indigenous forests nurturing flora and fauna) at the lower delta region, Paharpur Buddha Vihara and the historic mosque city of Bagerhat, etc.

Also, because of the river Inter-linking in India, salinity will creep up in the delta all over the southern part of Bangladesh, damaging agriculture. The long-term effect of such increase in salinity will surely wreak havoc among Bangladeshi folks living in the coastal area because this will also impact fisheries, which provide livelihood to many poor folks in that region of Bangladesh.

We hereby strongly suggest that the Task Force for the River Inter-linking Project should initiate bilateral talks with the expert groups of Bangladesh before undertaking such huge project. In this regard, we also hope that the government of India would respect all the relevant international laws [the U.N Water Convention (1997), Biodiversity Convention (1992) and Helsinki Rules (1966) etc.] pertaining to the use of water from the common rivers and other conventions on bio-diversities.

No project is so important that it should threaten the livelihood, environment and heritage of West Bengal, Assam and a neighbouring country such as Bangladesh. Please preserve the delicate balance of nature. While inter-linking rivers in India may make sense from an Indian perspective, it does not bode well for the people Bangladesh. Let good sense prevail. Nip this ill-conceived project in the bud and save the humanity.