Experts criticise MoUs on rivers, borders, transit, energy sector

BD-India relationship

18 September 2022

DU Correspondent :
Seven Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and five projects were  signed with India during the Prime Minister's visit there early this month. But experts are not hopeful about outcome.
The experts have raised questions regarding India-Bangladesh relationship especially about river, border, transit and energy sector as well as they demanded some measures to effective the relationship.
They expressed the concern in a virtual conference organized by Sarbojonkotha, a magazine of universities teachers and social platform,  titled 'Bangladesh-India relationship : Rivers, Border and Energy' on Saturday.
Criticizing the government's recent agreement with India over Kushiyara river water sharing, the experts said that such agreement was illogical and Bangladesh will not be able to garner any benefit out of it.
As per the deal, Bangladesh has been allowed to withdraw 153 cusecs of water from the Kushiyara River, but Bangladesh, as a lower-riparian country, has every right to withdraw water from it, they observed.
River expert Md Khalequzzaman and Professor of Lock Haven University said, "The Kushiyara deal for the withdrawal of 153 cusec water was not necessary because the portion of the river for which aggrement was signed is entirely within Bangladesh."
 He also said that Indian side constructed a township by completely blocking the river channel. If the channel flows naturally, there would have been more water flow during the dry season.
"During dry season from November to February, the section of Kushayara River in Bangladesh gets an average flow of 5,295 to 17,650 cusec. If Bangladesh requires taking India's permission to withdraw this small amount (153 cusecs) of water inside the country, it is absurd and unreasonable," Khalequzzaman said.
Dr Muhammad Tanzimuddin Khan, Professor of the Department of International Relations, Dhaka University, expressed concern about the border killing.
"Instead of the border killing into zero, the killings are continuing in the name of 'self-defense' and preventing the infiltration of 'smugglers' by BSF," he said.
"Despite the formal promise of bringing border killings to zero, it continues for the lack of effective measures. We saw, during the Prime Minister's visit, a 17-year-old school student was killed by BSF on Dinajpur border," Tanzimuddin added.
Talking about electricity import from India, Moshahida Sultana, Associate Professor of DU said "The electricity are being imported from India about eight percent (1160 MW) of the country's total generation. After implementing the Indian projects (Bangladesh and India), it will stand at around 16 percent"
"Importing refined oil from India will save for Bangladesh $2 to $3 per barrel. But bringing crude oil from other country, it would save 11 dollars per barrel after refining it. The increasing rate of long-term dependence on Indian management is strategically risky for Bangladesh," he added.
Anu Muhammad, Economist and Professor of Jahangirnagar University raised a number of points as to deepening the bilateral relationship between the two friendly countries.
The demands include signing UN International Water Act-1997 with Indian government immediately which provides guarantees the right of all countries to river water, implementation of the promise to stop border killings and UN interference about it and publishing a white paper immediately to clarify all the information regarding transit oriented infrastructure projects including the latest proposal from Hili to Meghalaya connectivity. 

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