Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tipaimukh : Another Double - Edged Sword

Seeing the obvious hazard lurking perilously to devastate impoverish and almost decimate over a fourth of the populace in Bangladesh and feigning that nothing much is visible is blatant repudiation of truth. This we say apropos of another life-and-death issue for us--- the Tipaimukh dam on the Barak river being built in the upstream by India --- over which the Awami League Government has chosen to talk less, and even if it does it is nonchalant and indifferent. While the Water Resources Minister makes a very astonishing comment that the Government would see to it after the completion of the dam, commerce minister Faruk Khan said that the Government “will not oppose Tipaimukh dam construction by India in Manipur if Bangladesh gets benefits… I think those who are talking too much against construction of the dam, are talking without knowing anything …”

As if the permanent grievous damage perpetrated by Delhi through the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage during the lifetime of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not enough --- which has severely affected a vast area covering as many as 16 districts of Bangladesh since 1974 --- India is going to harm Bangladesh again by constructing Tipaimukh multi-purpose dam. The ministers are disregarding water experts, economists and environmentalists who said the twin dams — one at Tipaimukh and another at Phulertal, on the cross-boundary river Barak — would dry up the rivers and the water bodies in the north-eastern districts of downstream Bangladesh, upsetting the ecological balance and destabilising the livelihood of the millions of people here.

Indeed the Tipaimukh Dam is double-edged sword. A former member of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) of the two countries, Tauhidul Anwar opines that interference with the natural flow of rivers is bound to have adverse impacts — sociological, hydrological and morphological — on the downstream country. Construction of the high dam in a geologically very sensitive zone could cause frequent and major earthquakes, inviting major tsunami-like disaster and endangering the lives, land and forests of both India and Bangladesh, so said the Dhaka Declaration, adopted at the International Tipaimukh Dam Conference (ITDC) in 2005 in Dhaka with participants from both India and Bangladesh expressing deep concern.

Having come to power offering an inviting manifesto pledging in sweetened words that aspirations of the masses would be fulfilled towards building a golden Bangladesh, the incumbent Awami League Government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continues to ignore and sort of bamboozle the nation in that it is blatantly ignoring public opinion in respect of this another Farakka problem --- the Tipaimukh dam issue, although Sheikh Hasina herself stated at her first media conference that she would not treat the Oppostion on the basis of its numerical strength. But the picture is now altogether different, and often the Parliament witnesses rude and un-parliamentary words laced in brash sarcasm hurled at Opposition leader Khaleda Zia who has repeatedly urged the Government to act.

It is advisable that the incumbents comprehend that tyranny in democracy is in other words majoritarianism that always raises the possibility of awful outcomes, figure out the broad pros and cons of the life threatening issue that is sure to adversely affect the sheer survival of over 5 (five) crore people of Bangladesh, see reason and vehemently oppose the sinisterly menacing Indian move through all forums at home and abroad. The Government must always remember that Bangladesh’s friendly gesture towards Delhi is welcome, but India --- however big and mighty she is --- must be reminded of the fact that amity has to be reciprocated, and that friendship cannot be one-sided. Last but not least, it will be nice of Delhi to remember that it is niggardliness to show off strength to a small and relatively weak neighbour. By any definition such attitude or mindset negates all civilised and humane norms. Having seen Delhi’s rude action on the closest neighbour Bangladesh, whose people have enough goodwill and friendly feelings, Mahatma Gandhi, symbol of peace and pacifism, and his soul must have been feeling restless, as he had made supreme sacrifice embracing martyrdom for the cause of love and affection for all people irrespective of caste and creed. Let us hope India would honour its founding father.