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BURIGANGA: Ecologic and Socio-Economic Review

BAPA plans move against river-linking project

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon will forge an alliance with local, regional and international organisations in favour of ‘ecological approach to rivers’, and wage a movement across the subcontinent against the proposed Indian river-linking project. Leaders of the environmental organisation told a news conference at the National Press Club on Thursday that they would soon initiate the movement as the Indian government had finalised the project paper and was determined to implement the project.

The movement will be waged on the basis of a resolution the organisation adopted in line with the resolution of the international conference on regional cooperation on trans-boundary rivers in December 2004.

The BAPA resolution put forth a charter of demands including abandonment of commercial approach to rivers, review of different water projects in the South Asian countries and decommissioning of those if need be and a halt to funding water projects that inspire commercial approach to rivers.

The leaders urged the Indian government to refrain from implementing the project considering its possible ecologically unsound impact on the region.

They said if the project is implemented it will leave a disastrous impact on the environment pushing the biodiversity of the entire region into destruction.

The BAPA leaders also urged the government of India to undertake a review on the Farakka barrage. ‘The Indian government needs to review the project whether it can be decommissioned,’ said the BAPA president, Professor Muzaffar Ahmed.

Muzaffar said the Bangladesh government should also put on hold the idea of a Padma Barrage and instead, should try to persuade India to restore the natural pre-Farakka flow of the river Padma.

The BAPA president claimed that the National Water Development Agency under the ministry of water resources of the Indian government had already identified 30 inter basin water transfer proposals (Himalayan: 14 and Peninsular: 16) at the feasibility reports on the proposed river linking project.

‘Although the authorities concerned are determined to implement the proposals by 2005, the Indian government continued saying that the river linking project was still under conceptual phase,’ he said.

Muzaffar urged all the forces working in favour of ecological approach to rivers to unite and take a common stance against the Indian river linking project.

The BAPA general secretary, Mahidul Haq Khan, and the joint secretary, Dr Matin, also spoke on the occasion.

Editor: Mir Monaz Haque, GlobalCom Software Ltd. Dhaka, Bangladesh in cooperation with South Asia Forum, Berlin, Germany. info

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