Flow of all common rivers must to avert environmental disaster: IFC

03 October 2022

Staff Reporter :
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Bangladesh and India for withdrawal of 153 cusecs of water from Bangladeshi river Kushiyara has created adverse reaction in the minds of the people. The Kushiyara has suddenly been brought to the fore although there is no indication of signing of the long-awaited Teesta treaty.
The International Farakka Committee (IFC) in a statement on Sunday said that a clear move to deprive Bangladesh of dry season flows of common rivers is visible.
Flows of 52 out of 54 common rivers are already diverted. Now lean season flows are available only in the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, notwithstanding numerous barrages on those or their tributaries at upstream, the statement read.
Kushiyara and Surma are distributaries the Barak River divided into two near the border. Already a barrage on the Barak at Phuler Tala diverts over 10,000 cusecs of water, the statement said adding that withdrawal of water from Kushiyara and Surma will weaker the Meghna and the haors (depressions) of Sylhet.
It is to be noted that since the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage, the annual water flow of the Ganges has come down to one-tenth from 500 billion BCM to 50 billion BCM.
As a consequence of this the south-western part of Bangladesh has experienced an environmental disaster. In the absence of fresh water flow, the UNESCO has declared that the World Heritage Site of the Sundarbans is facing disaster for excessive salinity in water.
 Saline water has intruded from the sea to the Hardinge Bridge point at Paksey, deep inside the country.
In the words of the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam the Teesta Treaty is still at assurance stage. The entire Teesta water had been diverted from the Gajaldoba Barrage in West Bengal for about two decades.
In the absence of the flow of this major river, the Northwestern part of Bangladesh has been going through a process of desertification. The Gumti which was once called the sorrow of Cumilla, now does not have water even in the wet season.
The very existence of Bangladesh, the largest delta in the world created by the common rivers over the millennia, has been threatened as it has been disconnected from the natural systems.
The environment, ecology, ecosystem, life and livelihood of this riverine country are suffering as a result.
The government should immediately take steps to ensure flows of the common rivers in order to save the country from environmental disasters caused by manmade reasons.
The signatories to the statement are- Atiqur Rahman Salu, Chairman, Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General, IFC New York, Professor Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr SI Khan, senior Vice-President, and Syed Irfanul Bari, General Secretary of IFC Bangladesh and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, IFC coordinator.

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