Friday, December 9, 2011

'Govt raised concern, pursued Tipaimukh issue'

The government raised its concerns on proposed Tipaimukh dam project and "vigorously pursued" the issue with the Indian government for safeguarding the interests of Bangladesh, the foreign ministry has said.

It issued a clarification on Friday at a time when Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced that the dam would be built.

Manipur's government in October secretly struck an investment deal with a number of state-run organisations for setting up the controversial hydroelectric power plant and Tipaimukh dam on India's Borak River.

The clarification said time and again assurance came from the top Indian leadership that no action would be taken which would have adverse impact on Bangladesh.

The joint statement issued during the visit of Singh to Dhaka in September said: ""The Prime Minister of India reiterated the assurance that India would not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact Bangladesh."

Similar assurance was issued when prime minister Sheikh Hasina had visited India in 2010.

In the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) meeting in New Delhi in March 2010 Bangladesh again strongly took the issue of the proposed dam with the Indian side, the ministry added.

The record of discussion on the JRC states that "Indian side again reiterated that there is no diversion of waters proposed and the proposed dam was meant only for power generation and flood control, and that the project would be beneficial for Bangladesh also since it will mitigate floods and augment water during the lean season.

"India reassured Bangladesh side that it would not take steps on Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact on Bangladesh."

The government in his first official reaction on Nov 22 underscored prior consultation before initiating any intervention on common rivers like Barak.

"This would be critical in avoiding any gap in understanding or allay concerns in Bangladesh."

India through a statement issued on the same day reiterated that the 1500 MW Tipaimukh Hydro-Electric (Multi-Purpose) Project would not involve diversion of water and hence would not have any adverse downstream impact on Bangladesh.

The Tipaimukh Project has been a major political issue in Bangladesh. The opposition Bangladesh National Party has been raising it repeatedly to question the rationale of the efforts of the Awami League led government in Dhaka to strengthen bilateral ties with New Delhi.