Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen on Saturday said that his ministry was not aware of a reported move by the Indian government to start construction of the Tipaimukh Dam. “We do not have any information about it,” the minister told The Independent when his attention was drawn to media reports that the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd. (Neepco), which was awarded the task of completing the project, is transporting machinery to the site of the proposed dam.
“I think, everything will be clear during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister” Ramesh said.
Prem Chand Pankaj, chairman-cum-managing director of the state-owned Neepco, recently told the Indian news agency IANS that the mega hydel power project would be commissioned ‘despite opposition within the country and outside.”
It is also reported in the media that Neepco obtained environmental clearance approval and received go-ahead from the central government of India to build the dam at Tipaimukh in Churachandpur district in India’s Monipur state.
“After receiving go-head, the company has completed all necessary preparation to start construction work at Tipaimukh, the source of 350-kilometer-long Surma and 110-km-long Kushiara rivers, the lifeline of Bangladesh’s north-eastern region.
Besides, a diversion barrage, including an irrigation project will be built downstream of the dam at Fulertol in Lakhipur in Assam, sources at the Nipko said, reported UNB on Saturday.
It may be mentioned that the 1500 MW multi-purpose Tipaimukh hydro-electric project in Manipur, is a joint venture between NHPC (69 per cent), Simla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (26 per cent) and Manipur Government (5 per cent).
The 390m long dam, said to be one of the largest in Eastern India, would be built up on the downstream of the confluence of the Tuivai and Barak Rivers in Churacchander district near the Manipur-Mizoram border.
Bangladesh had also raised concerns about the project saying that the flow of water from Barak river to Bangladesh would be affected due to the project.
Experts said, the damming of Barak River, seriously limiting free flowing Surma and Kushyara rivers will disrupt agriculture, irrigation, drinking water supply, navigation etc and reduce recharge of ground water during lean season, affecting all dug wells and shallow tube wells. Bangladesh gets 7 to 8 percent of its total water from the Barak River.
The Surma-Kushyara with its maze of numerous tributaries and distributaries support agriculture, irrigation navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, wildlife in the entire Sylhet division and in peripheral areas of Dhaka division and industries like fertilizer, electricity, gas. The dam would also leave millions jobless with the drying up of the two rivers. Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies, fed by the Barak, in the Sylhet region for fishing, agriculture and allied activities. The Barak-Surma-Kushyara is an international river with Bangladesh as a lower riparian country having rights over any decision over River.
-With The Independent input