Addressing apprehensions within, Bangladesh has rejected the contention that the proposed Tipaimukh hydro-electricity project in Manipur would be harmful to it and has expressed interest in benefiting from it by deriving power.
Sharing India’s view, Bangladesh High Commissioner Tariq Ahmed Karim has said the project was “not the cataclysm waiting to happen”, as being projected by a section in Bangladesh opposed to the plant.
“Tipaimukh is not the cataclysm waiting to happen, that it is made out to be.
It is a hydro-electric dam that will not divert any water (of Barak river) anywhere; it will not also withhold the flow of water,” he has said.
“It (the project) will do what hydro-electric dams do: it will first fill up water to a certain level, then discharge it continuously at a certain force in order to comply with the logic and end goal of such projects generate electricity.
It will also help in mitigating floods,” Karim has written in an article ‘Bangladesh-India Relation: My Vision of the way Forward’ on the occasion of the Independence day of Bangladesh .
He expressed the hope that a joint study by the two sides will clear the air and “even convince our naysayers that it is in our interest to be a shareholder in this project and get some power from it” .
There has been strong opposition to the power project by certain quarters of Bangladesh, including Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who are alleging that it would curtail availability of water downstream of Barak river which flows into northeastern Bangladesh and affect its ecology.
India has maintained that the apprehensions were unfounded as Tipaimukh is a run-of-theriver project entailing no diversion of water and would in fact help mitigate flood problem by regulating the flow of the water.
The same view was conveyed by Indian Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and officials of Power and External Affairs Ministry to a delegation of Bangladesh parliamentarians and officials which had visited New Delhi in 2009 .
Karim also expressed confidence that the Teesta river water sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India, which was aborted at the last moment last year because of objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, “will happen” but counselled patience.
“As for Teesta, let me assert: it will happen.
We need to have a little patience.
The government of India is working out the wrinkles in its relations with the government of West Bengal (essentially an internal matter).
Once that is done, the governments of India and Bangladesh can complete this unfinished business,” he wrote, in an apparent response to criticism over the treaty not being signed.
“In the meantime, we shall continue receiving the waters from this river as we have been over the last two decades,” the envoy said.
The High Commissioner said the “cacophony of clamour from a babble of voices from certain quarters in Bangladesh these days expressing dismay and self-righteous anger that certain things (particularly Teesta agreement) did not happen and about Tipaimukh project reflect a jaundiced vision and view the glass as more than half empty, in so far as Bangladeshi is concerned.
I humbly assert: the glass is more than three quarters full for Bangladesh” .
Referring to the agreement on land boundary demarcation and exchange of enclaves signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in September, Karim said the ratification of the deal, “expected soon”, will resolve “an unfortunate and most difficult legacy of the Partition for both countries will have been resolved amicably” .
He added that this would have various other ramifications that should prove beneficial for both sides.
Commenting on India removing from its negative list under SAFTA 46 items of vital importance for Bangladesh’s vibrant garments industry and thereafter taking “virtually all items of any interest to Bangladesh” off from any restrictions on their export to India, Karim said “for all practical purposes, this is a one-sided FTA in favour of Bangladesh which Bangladesh is not reciprocating in equal measure for India.
“This is a bold acknowledgement by visionary Indian leadership that our two economies are grossly skewed and marked by a huge asymmetry that can only be addressed by enlightened generosity on the part of the vastly larger neighbour,” he said.