Prime minister’s adviser Gowher Rizvi has rubbished the idea that construction of Tipaimukh dam on the River Barak in the Indian state of Manipur would harm Bangladesh.
‘Notions about the adverse impacts of Tipaimukh dam on Bangladesh are groundless’, Rizvi said on Monday, after meeting the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, on Saturday to discuss apprehensions among certain quarters here about the project.
Many environmentalists fear the dam would adversely impact, and possibly even affects areas in Sylhet. On the other hand, if the dam stops water, Meghna, Surma and Kushiara and other branches of these rivers in Bangladesh will dry up in lean season, according to environmentalists.
But Rizvi said the hydroelectric plant, being constructed at Tipaimukh, could in fact help Bangladesh. He said the project is estimated to generate 1500 megawatt electricity and Bangladesh could also invest in the project.
He also communicated Manmohan’s assurance that the dam would do not have any adverse impact on Bangladesh.
Rizvi said India had also assured help to Bangladeshi experts if they want to examine the project to get rid of their apprehension.
Bangladesh became concerned over possible negative impact of the project after the BBC published a report to that effect on November 18. Dhaka also sent a letter to New Delhi, seeking details of the project.
In response, New Delhi said the proposed Tipaimukh hydroelectric plant would not harm Bangladesh since the dam and the power plant would not stop the normal flow of the River Barak.
Earlier, responding to a communiqué from the BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, seeking a joint survey before work starts on the project, Manmohan had reiterated his assurance that the dam would have no adverse impact on Bangladesh.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, had sent her advisers Mashiur Rahman and Gowher Rizvi to India to discuss the issue with her Indian counterpart amid criticism from the BNP. The two met Manmohan on Saturday.
After entering Bangladesh, the River Barak gets bifurcated as Surma and Kushiara and flow into the Bay of Bengal.
Environmentalists apprehend Sylhet would go under water if the dam in the earthquake-prone area breaks.
Many Indian environmentalists are also opposing the project, fearing it might harm the livelihood of a large segment of population in both Manipur as well as Bangladesh.
Manmohan had earlier declared construction of the dam and the power project at a public gathering in Manipur.
-With New Age input