B`desh wants dam details in `full transparency`

Bangladesh on Tuesday asked India to ensure "full transparency" in sharing details of steps taken by it on the cross border Tipaimukh dam project.

Updated: Nov 22, 2011, 21:26 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh on Tuesday asked India to ensure
"full transparency" in sharing details of steps taken by it on
the cross border Tipaimukh dam project, after a controversy
erupted here following the signing of an agreement to set up a
joint venture company for the project.

In a statement here this evening, the foreign office said
a proper sharing of information was critical in allaying
concerns in Bangladesh.

The statement came hours after India`s external affairs
ministry sought to assure Bangladesh that the 500 MW Tipaimukh
Hydro-Electric Project would not involve diversion of water
while also stating that Promoter`s Agreement had been signed
with regard to the project.

"Given the most cordial relations existing between the two
countries, Bangladesh would hope that the Government of India
would share all relevant details of the proposed Project in
full transparency and also about any further step that it may
take in connection with the (hydroelectric) project," said the
foreign office statement here.

"This is would be critical in avoiding any gap in
understanding or allay concerns in Bangladesh," it said.

The statements came against the backdrop of media reports
in Bangladesh over the controversial project and criticism
that the Bangladesh government was not aware of the
developments on the dam.

The statement by India`s External Affairs Ministry said
earlier in the day: "The only recent development pertaining to
the project has been the signing of a `Promoter`s Agreement`
with the purpose of setting up a Joint Venture Company (JVC)
between the Government of Manipur, NHPC Ltd and Sutlej Jal
Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) on 22nd October, 2011".

It also said that the project was a hydro- electric
project with provision to control floods and that this would
not involve diversion of water on account of irrigation.
The reiteration came in the wake of media reports on the
signing of the promoter`s agreement for the project that is
being opposed by environmentalists.

However, since the deal was signed without knowledge of
the Bangladesh government, analysts and opposition parties
criticised the government.

Bangladesh`s opposition BNP called for a general strike
today in northeastern Sylhet region where the Barak enters
into Bangladesh to protest what it called the "inaction" of
the government against the deal signed by Indian government
for constructing the Tipaimukh Dam.

BNP declared the dawn-to-dusk hartal and demanded that
India scrap the project as it would cause "serious havoc in
the northeastern region of Bangladesh".

The Bangladesh foreign ministry statement said Dhaka would
"like to underscore the need for prior consultation before
initiating any intervention on common rivers like the Barak".

It also reminded New Delhi of its earlier assurance that
India would not take steps on the Tipaimukh Project that would
adversely impact on Bangladesh while the "assurance was again
reiterated during the visit of our Prime Minister to
Bangladesh in September 2011".

Furthering the statement, a foreign ministry spokesman
told newsmen in Dhaka that Indian external affairs ministry
conveyed about the development on the Tipaimukh only when it
issued the media statement on the issue today and "not before
as it was expected".

Experts have raised concerns that the cross-border
structure of the dam would expose downstream regions to severe
environmental threats, intensifying the impact of climate
change while a possible earthquake in that tremor-prone area
could cause major damage.

PTI