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     Volume 8 Issue 82 | August 14, 2009 |

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The Visit to Tipaimukh

The parliamentary team's visit to the Tipaimukh Dam site appears to have taken on a farcical quality. Questions are bound to arise over why the team was sent hastily at a time when monsoon rains are regularly lashing the Manipur region. Even if rain stopped helicopters landing, why didnt the delegation travel by road to the site, since they had the expectations of the nation resting on their shoulders! It is also strange that the team returned in two groups - with the politicians staying back for an extra day. The team members including team leader Abdur Razzak expressed "complete satisfaction" with India's handling of the Dam issue upon their return. These people are not experts on Dams or the environment and in any case it takes time to analyse any data. So on what basis were they satisfied that the Dam would not be harmful for Bangladesh? This implies a pre-determined and biased mindset that bodes ill for the nation. At the very least they could have called for a joint impact assessment on the downstream ecology. The outcome of this ill-timed and under prepared visit reminds us of what its critics had been saying all along - such a visit would not serve the interests of Bangladesh.

Abdur Razzak has said that India has handed over "all necessary data" regarding the Dam. If so, that data should be made public immediately. But one wonders why the data could not have been handed over to Bangladesh before through diplomatic channels, or even when Foreign Minister Dipu Moni visited Delhi? What was the need for the elaborate drama? India does not do anything without a reason, and many groups opposed to the dam have said India is making a show of "consultation" to appease international donors. If so, Abdur Razzak & Co. have certainly weakened Bangladesh's case by expressing their wholehearted satisfaction with the dam plan.

The Prime Minister has ordered an expert panel to analyse the data given by India. We hope the experts' panel will be constituted with renowned experts, and will work in a transparent way upholding the interests of the nation.
Sadiq Salehin
University of North Texas
1155 Union Circle #311277
Denton, Texas


Waterlogged in Rainy Season

Water logging is now a regular phenomenon for most of the city in Bangladesh. But it is unbearable for the people of Dhaka city. Only a few hours of torrential rain are enough to create a flood like situation. So after a long drought, torrential rain is not a blessing for the people of this city but a curse.

But it is a matter of regret that there is a general apathy among our policy maker to address this situation. We don't see any fruitful effort to rescue the 43 canals occupied by the land grabbers. But I think it is the high time for the government to take some stern action to restore the water channels before our cities become uninhabitable.
Surya Kanta
Norshingtila, Bagbari, Sylhet

Memorandum to the Parliamentary Team

Society of Activists & Volunteers for Environment (SAVE)
'PURBAPATH', Malugram, Silchar-788 002, Assam

Date: 01-8-09

The Chairman
Parliamentary Team, Bangladesh
(Constituted to visit the proposed Tipaimukh Dam site)

Sub:- Memorandum opposing construction of Tipaimukh Dam in view of the devastating environmental impact on downstream of Barak basin in general and Barak Valley in particular.

At the very outset, we offer you and all your team members a warm and hearty welcome to our land and thank you for your deep concern about the impact on environment emanating from the construction of Tipaimukh Dam at the upstream of Barak river.
With deep anguish, we have observed that during recent days, there is a lot of hue and cry, all opposing the construction of a 'water bomb' at Tipaimukh. A handful of protests have been witnessed in Manipur, Barak Valley of Assam, besides a lot from your native country, Bangladesh. We look at all these protests from the environmental and human point of view, and sincerely believe that any force, that lacks in feeling for the environmental impact of the proposed dam should be opposed. The words 'Think globally - Act locally' has been our guiding force and keeping these words in the back of mind, we sincerely like to draw your kind attention on the facts mentioned hereunder;
(I) That Sir, We sincerely believe that an extensive downstream environmental impact study from the proposed dam site up to sea-mouth should be jointly conducted at the initiative of the Government of India and Bangladesh where experts from Non Government Organisations particularly from the environmental outfits, IITs and Universities must be included to assess the possible detrimental impact on the environment and life of inhabitants in the catchment areas at large. Without downstream impact study, if a clean-chit to the project is given it would be detrimental for both environment and people at large of both in India and Bangladesh in particular.
(II) That Sir, the proposed dam falls at the confluence of Indo-Burma, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese Biodiversity hotspot zone. These areas are characterised by the presence of a large number plant and animal species, many of which are not seen or seldom witnessed in the rest of the world. A large number of them have been categorised as per endangered and threatened as per the IUCN Red Data book and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Once the dam is constructed, these innocent endangered and threatened species would have no other alternative, but to perish! Under such a situation, does the construction of a dam in the proposed site speak quite well in favour of biodiversity conservation?
(III) We strongly believe and observe with deep concern that this rock filled 500 m. long and 162.8 m. high dam to be constructed at the earthquake zone-V, Wherein there will be constant pressure of water, if for any reason cracks, the entire civilisation of the whole of downstream will be washed down in no time. The age old Barak-Surma culture will live in history only. Can any force or technology prevent this and ensure against such catastrophic mishap?
(IV) Besides the above mentioned burning issues, other important impacts such as water scarcity, crop cultivation, navigation, siltation, ecological imbalance, river pollution, extinction of aquatic life forms and the like deserve careful and serious attention, before construction of the dam.
Keeping all these in view, we sincerely believe that your good office will consider all the matters seriously and looking at the entire issue from the pro-environment and pro-human point of view, would strongly oppose the construction of the Tipaimuk dam, life time curse for the inhabitants of Barak-Surma basin.
With warm regards,
Sincerely Yours

(Dr. Parthankar Choudhury)
President, SAVE

(Pijush Kanti Das)
Secretary, SAVE

NB: This memorandum was prepared to be handed over to the visiting team but as they could not arrive at Silchar we could not submit it to them. We therefore request you to hand over the same using your best source, for which we will remain grateful.

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