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Sunday, March 23, 2008
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Construct barrage on Gorai to protect southwestern region

Experts urge govt at BBC Bangladesh Sanglap

Experts at a dialogue here yesterday urged the government to take immediate steps to construct a barrage on the river Gorai to protect environment and livelihoods in southwestern region of the country.

They observed that poverty is increasing in the region day by day as agriculture and fisheries have been badly affected, and people have already begun migrating to other areas due to bad effect of Farakka Barrage of India.

Under the banner of BBC Bangladesh Sanglap, the special dialogue titled 'Farakka and Environment' was held at Renwick Embankment in Kushtia town.

"We need to construct a barrage on the river Gorai immediately to protect the region and its people," said former member of Joint River Commission (JRC) Touhidul Anwar Khan.

The barrage will also help uniform distribution of water in different rivers across the southwestern region, he added.

Touhidul alleged that India has constructed barrages on almost all the rivers that flow over Bangladesh to divert their water.

“As a result our rivers are being dried up gradually,” he said, adding that the future generation will face an eco-disaster if people from all walks of life do not raise their voice now for rational share of waters of the common rivers.

Editor of New Nation Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Coordinator of Padma-Gorai Area Water Partnership Dr Anwarul Karim and former Jatiya Party lawmaker Badruddoza Gama also took part in the sanglap as panelists.

BBC's guest presenter Gawhar Nayeem Wahra, also convener of Disaster Forum of Bangladesh, moderated the sanglap organised by BBC Bangla Service in conjunction with the BBC World Service Trust.

Dr Karim said salinity has increased alarmingly in the region affecting agriculture, fisheries and livelihoods.

Responding to a query, he said if the barrage is constructed the prevailing problems will be resolved to a great extent.

Mostafa Kamal said due to water crisis there is severe arsenic problems in the region.

Gama said pressure would have to be mounted on India for proper sharing of water.

"To press home our demand we will have to raise the issue in different international forums including the United Nations," he added.

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