Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bangladesh gets 80% Ganges water: Mamata

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has complained to Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh that 80 per cent of the water from the Farakka Barrage goes to Bangladesh.

India's private television channel NDTV reported the interaction based on a letter the Trinamool chief sent to Singh.

Quoting a government official the report said, "Bangladesh was to get 35,000 cusecs during the dry season as per the water agreement between the two countries but was getting 82,801 cusecs due to the drainage of water from the barrage."

"The excess outflow of water from Farakka barrage through two damaged sluice gates has reduced its water level by three metres and is posing a threat of erosion at Jangipur area of Murshidabad district."

''The water level at the barrage, which should remain 21.90 metres has come down by three metres as gate numbers 13 and 16 have broken down,'' hydrologist Kalyan Rudra said.

The Ganges water-sharing agreement was struck with India during Awami League's tenure in 1996. A deal over sharing Teesta river's water was to be struck during Manmohan Singh's trip to Bangladesh last September, but the signing was stalled due to opposition from Mamata.

Scheduled to accompany the Indian prime minister on the tour, the West Bengal chief minister pulled out at the last moment saying that the amount of water to be given to Bangladesh was not disclosed to her earlier.

Head of the state government's experts' body studying the Teesta water-sharing issue, Rudra pointed out to the television channel that the excess outflow was causing scarcity of water at NTPC's Farakka plant as the feeder canals were also running out of water.

The barrage, commissioned in 1975, has 109 sluice gates, he said pointing out their annual maintenance was not carried out properly.

Mamata has been taking 'strong' stances against the Indian central government recently. She last declined to attend a function in her state that was inaugurated by central government's home minister P Chidambaram on Friday.

Her snub came a day after she lodged her protests against the home minister's new counter terrorism body - National Counter Terrorism Centre – a brain child of Chidambaram.