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Monday, October 15, 2012
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Teesta Water

Bangladesh must get its due share

Considering the number of people dependent on the Teesta, Bangladesh should get an equitable share of the river water.

Professor Dr Fakhrul Islam, a teacher of Rajshahi University, said this at an international meeting on “Framework for Cooperation on South Asian Trans-boundary Water” held in the capital yesterday.

He noted 21 million people in Bangladesh depended on the river while in India it was only eight million. But the neighbouring country keeps around 85 percent of Teesta water during the lean period.

In his presentation, he showed that the Teesta water did not cross 6,000 cusecs over the lean period from 1993 to 1999 at Dalia point in Bangladesh as India had blocked the flow at Gazoldoba.

Rangpur, where 70 percent people live bellow the poverty line, becomes seriously affected by the shortage of Teesta water in dry season.

Donor organisations should place some restrictions on releasing fund for the construction of any barrage or irrigation projects which may harm riparian states.

The feasibility studies before granting such funds should be made with foresights, he added.

The two-day meeting, which began on Saturday, was attended by experts from South Asian countries.

The speakers said the environment flow approach of managing and sharing the Teesta water could save the dying river and resolve the decades-long disagreement between Bangladesh and India.

Environmental flows can be described as the quality and quantity of flows required for maintaining sound health of a water body.

Suresh Babu SV, director of River Basins and Water Policy WWF-India, presented a paper titled “E-flows: A tool for regional cooperation”.

He said cooperation should be the driving principle of sharing the trans-boundary waters.

Sagar Prasal, deputy country director of Asia Foundation in Nepal, presented a paper on the role of civil society on the decision making process for common rivers.

He said civil society could first build trust among citizens as they can function without the constraints of foreign policy mandates.

Dr MA Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon, chaired the last session of the day.

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