Bangladesh experts to investigate India dam plan

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Bangladesh experts to investigate India dam plan

by Staff Writers
Dhaka (AFP) April 13, 2009
Bangladesh said Monday it would send experts to India to investigate claims a proposed dam in northeastern Assam state would dry up downstream tributaries crucial for farmers.

Bangladesh has for five years protested against the dam at Tipaimukh because of fears it would affect the flow of water in the Meghna, its third largest river and one of the main sources of water for the eastern part of the country.

"India believes we don't understand the issue fully. We are all concerned about this. They have agreed for us to send technical and political experts to investigate the matter," Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain said.

Water supply is vital for Bangladesh's agriculture-based economy and has been a key issue between the countries for decades.

In summer Bangladesh is frequently flooded by monsoon rains and melted snow from the Himalayas
. During the dry season, however, it suffers from water shortages.

But Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, in a visit to the Bangladeshi capital, said farmers would not be affected by the proposed dam at Tipaimukh.

"As far as we can see we don't think there should be a downstream effect," Menon told reporters.

"It's much simpler we sit down together and we'll explain to (Bangladesh officials) what exactly we've planned to do. That's the normal way between friends."

In 1970 India completed work on the Farakka Barrage to divert a large amount of water during the dry season from the Ganges, named the Padma in Bangladesh, to revive the Bhagirathi river in India's West Bengal
state and stop the Kolkata port from silting.

Although a 30-year agreement between India and Bangladesh on water sharing from the Ganges was finally signed in 1996, no other agreements have been reached on scores of other shared rivers.
 

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