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Tipaimukh dam 'only if Dhaka agrees'

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

/ Published by Simon L Infimate
New Delhi, June 4 (—India will not build Tipaimukh multipurpose dam project on the Barak River in Manipur without the consent of Bangladesh, a top bureaucrat said on Monday in fresh assurance.

"If Bangladesh does not come along with us, we will not be going ahead with the construction (Tipaumukh project)," Secretary to India's Ministry of Water Resources Dhruv Bijai Singh told a group of Bangladeshi journalists in New Delhi.

The Bangladeshi media team will visit the Tipaimukh dam project site. 

The Indian government has been saying that it would not take steps on the proposed project, which would adversely affect Bangladesh amid protests from opposition and environmental activists.

The sub-group of Joint Rivers Commission is going to meet at the end of this month to begin study of all aspects of the project with specific reference to the dam's probable impact on Bangladesh, the Secretary said.

India offered Bangladesh to invest in the $2 billion project and the sub-group will also study the partnership stake.

"Money is limited and if India finds the project problematic, it would build dam elsewhere, Singh said.

The Indian government has a plan to implement flood mitigation and hydro-power generation project in Tipaimukh, 210 kilometres from Sylhet border.

The Secretary said no construction work had begun on the site, refuting reports to the contrary.

Joint Rivers Commission

Indian Minister for Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal in the meeting with the journalists claimed that it was Bangladesh that proposed the Tipaimukh project in 1974.

When the journalists asked him for relevant documents, his office supplied the agreed minutes of the sixth JRC meeting held in November, 1973.

"The commission considered the study of Barak Dam project in the context of floods in India and Bangladesh and recommendation that this project be reviewed by the Superintending Engineers of Bangladesh and India, for flood moderation and protection to Sylhet, Cacher and adjoining areas," the minute said.

Bangladesh's High Commissioner to India Tareq A Karim in his meeting with journalists on the same day said between 1972 and 1982, the rhetoric was same but it was changed in 1982 when it was stated that the project would be harmful for Bangladesh.

There were 13 JRC meetings from 1972 to 1975, eight from 1978 to 1982 (during the BNP regime), 11 JRC meetings from 1982 to 1991, but none from 1991 to 1996 .

There were three JRC meetings between 1996 and 2001 while two JRC meetings were held from 2002 to 2006. During the period of the current government only one JRC meeting took place.


The dam will create a reservoir of 22,000 hectares of land and it would be filled during flood time, Secretary Singh said. The standard practice is to fill up the reservoir when there is flood with excess water, he explained.

The reservoir can contain nine billion cubic metres of water and it is over six times larger than Kaptai lake reservoir.

The electricity production capacity of the project is 1,500 megawatt and depending on availability of water, the power generation will fluctuate, according to the senior official.

A highly placed source in the Indian diplomacy said given the existing technology, power unit cost is so high that the project would not be financially feasible.

No irrigation project

The Indian Secretary categorically said there would be no diversion of water as the project did not consist any irrigation component.

When asked about construction of barrage in Phuler Tal, he said there was no such project.

Phuler Tal is 100 kilometres down from Tipaimukh and in the case of a barrage, water is diverted to other areas.

Teesta deal 

Water Resources Minister Bansal said there was political will from both the governments to sign the agreement and they were trying to sign the agreement 'as soon as possible'.

Bangladesh and India failed to sign the interim Teesta water-sharing agreement during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September last year due to strong resistance from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.


~Sheikh Shahariar Zaman (
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