Thursday, February 23, 2012

Withdrawal, Diversion Of Teesta Water Cause Steep Decline In Teesta Flow

Withdrawal and diversion of Teesta water by up-stream India has brought down the volume of water in Teesta irrigation canal to 450 cusec and that of the Teesta river to below 1,000 cusec, a leading national daily said here Thursday.

It said, Water Board officials said the volume of water in Teesta drops steeply in December-March as India holds almost all the water during that period.

Bangladesh needs 3,500 cusec of water during February-March lean period, they informed.

"We cannot open the sluice gates of the irrigation canal everyday as the water might flow down to the Teesta River hampering the irrigation gravely," the report quoted an engineer of Teesta Irrigation Project as saying.

In 1990, Bangladesh constructed the Teesta Barrage to supply water for irrigation to about 6.32 lakh hectares of land in Nilphamari, Rangpur, Dinajpur, Joypurhat, Gaibandha and Bogra districts.

According to available information, about 3,000 acres of char land in the Teesta has been lying unused for years as availability of water is not sufficient for farmers to grow rice and other crops there.

The water level in Teesta has been going down by around two feet a year in the northern region of the country due to excessive use of ground water for irrigation, the report said.

Tobacco cultivation, requiring less water but posing serious threat to human health and ecology, has almost doubled in the northern districts in the last couple of years as farmers are not getting adequate water for Boro cultivation during February-March.

According to Water Development Board records, water flow in the Teesta used to be at least 4,000 cusec in February before India built the Gazoldoba Barrage in the 1980's and started to divert Teesta water for irrigation and to the Mahananda river.

The river has a history of an average flow of at best 2,80,000 cusec and at least 10,000 cusec at Dalia, upstream of the Teesta barrage in Bangladesh.

Due to increasing withdrawal in the upstream, this flow has come down to about 1,000 cusec which goes down to even 500 cusec in the dry season.

Quoting experts and Internet findings, the report observed that India's irrigation plan with the Teesta is massive, covering about 9.22 lakh hectare of land in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur and Malda districts.

Besides, India also diverted its water towards the Teesta Irrigation Project areas and has been releasing huge quantity of water towards Bihar through the Mahananda and Mechi rivers, the report said.

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