Vol. 5 Num 571 Tue. January 03, 2006  

India urged to abandon dam projects

Indian government should abandon all proposed dams including the Tipaimukh Dam project in the northeastern part considering the adverse effect on both India and Bangladesh, said the speakers at a seminar yesterday.

They suggested an independent international review on the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the 16 commissioned and eight under-construction dams in India.

The seminar on 'Large dams in northeastern India and their implications for Bangladesh' was organised by Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), an NGO working with environmental issues, at the National Press Club in the city.

Dams stop the flow of water and as a result rivers dry up and die, the speakers said, adding that there are now only 250 rivers while once there were 1000 rivers in the country.

As Bangladesh is a downstream country, the effect will be more adverse here than other countries of the upstream, they added.

Presenting the keynote paper, Prof Md Khalequzzaman of Lock Haven University, USA said in order to produce 50,000 MW hydroelectric power, Indian government is constructing dams on northeastern rivers, but there are many shortcomings of large dams in terms of flood control, hydroelectric power generation and changes in environment and ecosystems in both upstream and downstream countries.

He suggested all stakeholders belonging to a watershed to formulate a Regional Environmental Treaty within the framework of newly proposed disaster management and poverty alleviation agenda set forth in Dhaka declaration of Saarc 2005.

Dr Debabrata Roy Laifungbam, an environmentalist of Manipaur of India, said the Tipaimukh Dam will create adverse effect for both the countries.

Prof Asif Nazrul of Dhaka University, President of Bangladesh Economic Association Dr Kazi Khaliquzzaman, Bapa Vice-president Prof Nazrul Islam, Editor of the New Nation Mostafa Kamal Majumdar and Political Advisor of Indian High Commission Gaddam Dharmendra also spoke.

The seminar was presided over by Abul Mal Abdul Muhit, former minister and founder president of Bapa.