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Indian River Linking Project:
India's River Diversion Plan: Its impact on Bangladesh

Indian plans to divert vast quantities of water from major rivers, including the Ganges and Brahmaputra, threaten the livelihoods of more than 100 million people downstream in Bangladesh, the Bangladeshi government fears. Ministers are so concerned that they are considering appealing to the United Nations to redraft international law on water sharing, said a report of the leading British daily The Guardian.

A recent report by correspondent John Vidal from Dhaka said : The ambitious Indian plans to link major rivers flowing from the Himalayas and divert them south to drought-prone areas are still on the drawing board, but Bangladeshi government scientists estimated that even a 10% to 20% reduction in the water flow to the country could dry out great areas for much of the year.

More than 80% of Bangladesh's 20 million small farmers grow rice and depend on water that has flowed through India.
"The idea of linking these rivers is very dangerous.It could affect the whole of Bangladesh and be disastrous," said Hafiz (uddin) Ahmad, the water resources minister. "The north of Bangladesh is already drying out after the Ganges was dammed by India in 1976. Now India is planning to do the same on [many of] the 53 other rivers that enter the country via India. Bangladesh depends completely on water."

The minister was quoted as saying that the government had protested to India but had so far not had any response. "Without this water we cannot survive," he said. "If [rice] production falls then we would not know how to survive. We want no kind of war, but international law on sharing water is unsure and we would request the UN to frame a new law. It would be a last resort."

The Indian government is preparing to seek international funds for its giant river-linking project, intended to divert water from the north of the country to drought-prone southern and eastern states. Up to one third of the flow of the Brahmaputra and other rivers could be diverted to southern Indian rivers to provide 173bn cubic metres of water a year, supplying millions of people in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka states with more reliable drinking and irrigation water, said The Guardian.

But the plan - which could cost between £44bn and £125bn and take at least 14 years to implement, making it potentially the largest and most expensive water project in the world - would redraw the subcontinent's hydrological map with immense ecological and social consequences.
It involves building hundreds of reservoirs and digging more than 600 miles of canals. Preliminary estimates by environment groups suggest that more than 3,000 square miles of land could be flooded and 3 million people forced off their land. India's national water development agency, which is backing the scheme, has said it will divert enough water to irrigate 135,000 square miles of farmland and produce 34,000 megawatts of hydroelectricity. However, much of the electricity would be needed to pump the water around.

"This could trigger a long-term disaster on the subcontinent and trigger bloodshed in the region," said Shashanka Saadi, of Action Aid Bangladesh.

Bangladesh already knows the consequences of India restricting its water. The Farakka barrage, built across the Ganges 11 miles from the Bangladeshi border in 1974, had at certain times of the year reduced by half the water that once flowed via the Ganges into Bangladesh, said Mr Ahmad.

"Great parts are turning into a desert, rivers have lost their navigability, salt water is intruding into farming areas. You can walk across the river Gori at some times of the year," said the minister.

Although the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have a water sharing agreement for the Ganges, there are none for the other 53 rivers that cross the border. Bangladeshi water engineers say that Indian barrages, canals, reservoirs and irrigation schemes are slowly strangling the country and are stopping its development. Bangladesh, which is too flat for major reservoirs, says if India goes ahead with its schemes, it may have to build a network of expensive canals to irrigate large areas now fed naturally by the Brahmaputra. "It would cost a huge amount of money, but we may need it to survive," said Mukhles uz Zaman, the director general of the Bangladesh water development board. "At the moment there is just about enough water for everyone, but the Indian plans could be disastrous. They would have catastrophic effects on Bangladesh's rice fields."

One of the most serious consequences of India's continuing search for irrigation water is expected to be the further drying out of the Sunderbans, the world's largest coastal forest, a world heritage site shared by India and Bangladesh and vital for fish. "The forest needs fresh water to survive. Because of the Farakka dam fresh water is not reaching there and the rivers are silting up rapidly. The trees are dying" said Mr Zaman.

Local people say the Farakka barrage has already changed millions of people's lives. "In eight to 10 years I believe that most of the Sunderbans will be silted up. The rivers flow far less than before the barrage was built, and it is getting worse every year," says Humayun Kabir, of Noapara, where a large river is now a small backwater and 6 metres (20ft) of silt has been deposited across thousands of hectares. "These new Indian plans would finish the whole area," reported The Guardian quoting Kabir.

© Copyright 2003 by The New Nation

 

In Search of Sustainable Water Management: International Lessons for the American West and Beyond

Withdrawal of water thru'' Farakka affects economy: Siraj

Speakers at a seminar in the city Saturday said that India''s unilateral withdrawal of water through the Farakka point was largely responsible for slow inflow in different rivers including Gorai in Bangladesh, reports BSS. They said the insufficient water in the common rivers was causing various problems, ultimately affecting the economy as well as the environment in Bangladesh.

Our agriculture and environment are facing various adversities due to slow water flows in our rivers, they observed. The seminar held at the LGED auditorium was organised by the Global Water Partnership-South Asia (GWP- SAS) in collaboration with the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) marking the World Environmental Day-2003. Minister for Environment and Forests Shajahan Siraj and Water Resources Minister Hafizuddin Ahmed were the chief guest and special guest respectively at the function. Chairman of GWP-SAS and President of IEB Engr Quamrul Islam Siddique presided over the function.

The main subject of the seminar was `Low flow in the Gorai river and its impact on the South-west region of Bangladesh''. Water experts Inun Nishat gave the keynote speech. Chairman of the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) Giasuddin Ahmed Chowdhury, Dutch Ambassador in Bangladesh Sjef Ijzermans, Mohammed Shohrab Uddin MP and Syed Mehedi Ahmed Rumi MP took part in the discussion. Shajahan Siraj said unilateral withdrawal of water by India through the Farraka point was adversely affecting various sectors of national economy including environment in Bangladesh. "Free flow of water in common rivers is internationally accepted norms.

We hope that the international forums will come forward to resolve this problem to ensure Bangladesh''s rightful share in the water of common rivers," he said. Hafizuddin Ahmed said Farakka barrage had created a blockade to slow down the flow of the international river Ganges, creating various problems in Bangladesh. "This problem should be resolved internationally," he said. The Water Resources minister said, we have to depend on the "goodwill" of our neighbour. "It can never be a permanent solution for us," he observed. ( BSS)

-Copyright © 1998 Global Amitech


India to build water grid to divert river waters: Inviting disaster for Bangladesh


By Staff Reporter
May 10, 2003, 17:08

Indian government has planned to construct a 'national' water grid to shift water from the northern to the southern region.

Water Resources Minister Engr LK Siddiqui and top water experts of Bangladesh have requested the Indian government to sit in a discussion with Bangladesh side before constructing the proposed national water grid.

It was revealed at a seminar on "Water Resources Management and Water Problem of International Rivers and Regional Cooperation" held at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) in the city yesterday. IEB organised the seminar.

Experts at the seminar said Bangladesh would be deprived of its due share of water if the Indian government is go ahead with the proposed national grid. "Bangladesh will have to face serious consequences if such a massive water grid is constructed, they cautioned.

Water Resources Minister Engr LK Siddiqi was present as the chief guest at the seminar.

President of IEB Engr Quamrul Islam Siddiqui spoke as special guest, while Dr M Golam Mohiuddin, Dhaka Central Chairman of IEB, presided over the seminar.

Prof MF Bari of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) presented a keynote paper.

Engr Mokhlesur Rahman, Director General of Bangladesh Water Board, water experts Dr Inun Nishat and Engr Towhidur Anwar Khan, a teacher of Department of Law of Dhaka University Dr Asif Nazrul Islam of Department of Geography of Dhaka University and Dr Sajjadur Rashid, among others, spoke at the seminar.

Engr LK Siddiqui said a think-tank on water issues of international standard by IEB should be constituted to help the government and to press upon the international community to resolve the water sharing problems among the South-Asian countries.

"The government is trying to resolve the water crisis in various ways, including by construction of barrages which have already given us success. But fund crisis is the main barrier for the country to construct more barrages," he said.

Engr Quamrul Islam Siddiqui said all water experts along with social scientists, experts on geography and other experts should come forward to build a forum to ensure the smooth flow of water in the international rivers.

"We should take steps on how to increase the conservation of water," he said.

Engr Siddiqui said, "The Padma and Brahmaputra are the main rivers of the country which provide with huge quantity of surface water. If India builds a water grid line to shift water from the northern region to southern region, it would be disastrous for Bangladesh and the country will be deprived of surface water drastically."

Dr Inun Nishat said, "India, China, Turkey and Brazil are conserving water without considering the demands of water of downstream countries. But, under the international laws, conservation of water from the upper-riparian is not legal without taking the demands of down stream counties into consideration."

© Copyright 2003 by The New Nation

Problems in other country:



Tuesday, October  8, 2002. Posted: 13:15:24 (AEDT)

Water expert criticises river diversion plan

One of the world's leading water management experts has criticised calls from the organisers of the Farmhand drought relief campaign to divert some of the country's major rivers to water inland farms.

Professor Peter Cullen says any scheme to redirect waterways inland to irrigate marginal farming areas would have adverse affects on salinity levels and coastal industries such as prawn fisheries.

Professor Cullen says Australian primary producers have to put up with the seasonal variabilities of the weather, or get off the land.

"I think holding your hand out when you get a couple of dry years for public help is probably not a very helpful way," he said.

"I understand the hardship and the difficulties, and I'm delighted that some very wealthy Australians are putting their hands in their pockets to help those people, but really farming in Australia is about learning to live with the rainfall that we get, and the rainfall patterns that we get, and that means droughts and floods, so they're not unusual events, that's what farming in Australia is about."



© 2003 Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Water-Diversion Plan Threatens California's Salton Sea

National Geographic Today
September 24, 2002

At first glance, the Salton Sea appears like a glistening mirage in the California desert—a shimmering landscape of reflected sky and sand. But Salton is no mirage—it is a bird-watcher's paradise with more than 400 species and waters that thrive with millions of fish. However the sea's very existence, and all the species that call it home, is threatened by a new proposal that would redirect its only water supply.

The Salton Sea is in peril—it is already 25 percent saltier than the Pacific and it is in danger of becoming so salty that it will no longer support life.

Because the demand for water in California's metropolitan areas is so great, the state is considering a proposal to divert freshwater that would normally flow into the sea, to western cities.

Without freshwater, evaporation will cause the water level to drop and the sea will become saltier, faster, said Charlie Pelizza, a wildlife biologist at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge. "The implications are that the salinity will go up to the point where fish won't reproduce or survive."

How will the Sugar River downstream be impacted by the river diversion?

Ref:http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/FAQ/Lake_Belle_View/River_Diversion.htm

Answer: 1) After the project is constructed and has time to stabilize, there will be no impacts downstream of the project.  Even though the stream flow is divided up through and around the lake differently in our proposed alternatives, the total stream flow will remain the same downstream of the project.  2) Immediately after and during construction, there will be an increase in sedimentation downstream of the county border.  Sediment accumulation is likely to begin just downstream of Fahey's bridge.  Deposits of nutrient-rich sediments could lead to increased vegetation growth, as well as the redirection of meanders and bedform geometry.  Sedimentation should be minimized during construction to reduce short-term impacts downstream.

Will the river diversion adversely impact the river level and flood level upstream, a concern expressed by our Town of Montrose stakeholders?  What change, if any, can they expect?

Ref:http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil/FAQ/Lake_Belle_View/River_Diversion.htm

Answer: If the houses on the north shore of the lake are out of the 100-year floodplain, they have nothing to worry about. Our design will not impact the 100-year flood elevation. If the houses are lower than the 100-year elevation (approx. 863 ft), it depends how low they are in the floodplain. Modeling indicates that plan 1B can transport enough water to avoid negative impacts to lower flood levels. Flood profiles will be refined in the Plans & Specifications phase of this Section 206 project.


More News & Articles:


Biodiversity Impacts of large Dams
India, Bangladesh ministerial meet on water sharing
Bangladesh fears disaster as India plans to divert rivers
Struggles against Farakka Dam
Sharing Treaty of the Ganga/Ganges Waters at Farakka
Bangladesh: Crisis looms as India plans water diversion
Farakka Impact Observation Trip
Environment: Unconventional Threat To Bangladesh -by Jyoti M Pathania
Bangladesh: Waiting for a miracle
Age Of Arsenic Contamination In Bangladesh
Farakka issue -- a serious look
India's FARAKKA Barrage Is A Disaster For Bangladesh
River link project: lies, damned lies, and stat
Time Series Model Analysis of the Conflict over the Ganges Water Resources between Bangladesh and India
Model Analysis of the Conflict between Bangladesh and India over the Ganges River Water Resources
India and the Farakka Dam
Treaty Between Bangladesh and India on Sharing Ganga Ganges Waters and Farakka


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