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Rediff.com  » News » Bangladesh objects to India's plans to build dams in Meghalaya

Bangladesh objects to India's plans to build dams in Meghalaya

December 27, 2012 10:36 IST

After the recent squabble between India and Bangladesh over the Tipaimukh dam, a new row seems to be brewing between the two otherwise friendly neighbours.

Last week, Bangladesh sent a letter to authorities in India to express its objection to the construction of two hydroelectric dams on two rivers in Meghalaya.

A senior official of the water resources ministry of Bangladesh was quoted by a TV channel as saying, "We have learnt that India is planning to build two dams to produce hydroelectricity on Umiew and Myntdu rivers in Meghalaya state, which they cannot do without prior consultation with the downstream country."

The official added, "We asked them not to proceed with the projects" as "these two are common rivers and Bangladesh will not allow any construction on any common river without a proper study (of the consequences)."

The Bangladesh foreign ministry has sent an official letter to the external affairs ministry. Another letter is expected to be sent this week.

"We will raise the issue at different platforms in addition to the operational level meetings of the Joint River Commission," said a Bangladesh foreign ministry official.

If no feedback is received from India soon, Bangladesh will raise the issue during a Foreign Office Consultation or Joint Consultative Commission.

Earlier, Bangladesh had raised its concerns about the Tipaimukh dam on Barak River in Manipur state near the Indo-Bangla border. Delhi had then agreed to initiate a join feasibility study about the dam.

The sub-group of the JRC initiated its study in September this year and it is expected to come to a conclusion in January 2014.

According to several researchers, the Tipaimukh dam is likely to endanger wildlife, agriculture and freshwater fisheries in north-eastern Bangladesh. The livelihood of a large number of people in the area will also be affected.

Protests against the project have also been held in Manipur. Opponents of the dam fear that it would further aggravate the environmental and geological situation of Manipur which is "one of the most geologically vulnerable areas in the world".

According to Soibam Ibotombi, professor at the department of earth sciences, Manipur University, the state had already recorded at least two major earthquakes measuring over 8 on the Richter scale in the past 50 years.

He warned, "The dam will be a geo-tectonic blunder of international dimensions" as it can submerge a vast area of land, render thousands of people landless, affect several villages of Tamenglong district and demolish some ancient monuments in the area. 

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury in Dhaka