No To Tipaimukh Dam

Rezwan

Rezwan

Map courtesy http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/Abid_Jaljala/28950257
Map courtesy http://www.somewhereinblog.net/blog/Abid_Jaljala/28950257
The Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project is being constructed near the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in Manipur, India and within 100km of Bangladesh border. Costing Rs 6,351 crore ($1.35 billion) the 164 meter high dam will have a firm generation capacity of 401.25MW of electricity.

While Hydroelectric projects are typically considered greener than other power generation options in short term, it has significant long-term impact to the environment like changes in the ecosystem, destroying nearby settlements and changing habitat conditions of people, fish and wildlife. Especially in the densely populated countries like India and Bangladesh, where rivers are lifelines, projects like Tipaimukh will create adverse effect to a huge number of population and their habitats.

No wonder right from the start this project faced protests from potentially affected people in India, and from the downstream neighbor Bangladesh. The people of Manipur have been fighting legally to stop the project but have so far been unsuccessful. The Indian government is going ahead with the plan. The Sinlung Indigenous People Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) of India said that “the process for choosing it (the project premises) ignored both the indigenous people and the recommendations of the WCD (World Commission on Dams)”.

From Bangladesh journalist and blogger Dhibor says:

এই বাঁধ তৈরির কি অজুহাত হিসেবে বলা হচ্ছে, আসামের বন্যা নিয়ন্ত্রন এবং জল বিদ্যুত উৎপাদন করে, উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের মানুষদের প্রভুত কল্যাণে এই বাধ নির্মিত হবে। পাঠকদের জ্ঞাতার্থে জানাচ্ছি যে, আন্তর্জাতিক পানি আইন অনুসারে, ভাটির দেশের পুর্ণ সম্মতি ছাড়া এবং পরিবেশের ক্ষতি করে কোন দেশই একতরফাভাবে নদী শাসন করতে পারবে না। তবে পরিতাপের বিষয় হলো, আন্তর্জাতিক আইন মানতে কোন দেশ বাধ্য নয়। এখানে জোর যার মুল্লুক তার হিসেবেই এই আইন প্রযোজ্য। ভারতের তুলনায় আমাদের অর্থনৈতিক-সামরিক বা খুটির জোর অল্প বলে, আমাদের মার খেয়ে যেতেই হচ্ছে।

উঃ পুর্ব ভারতের অধিবাসিদের নাকের সামনে টিপাইমুখি বাধের মুলো ঝুলিয়ে রাখা হলেও, তারা পঃ বঙ্গের অধিবাসিদের মত ভোলেননি। তাই এই বাধের বিরুদ্ধে সেখানে তীব্র প্রতিবাদ হচ্ছে। মনিপুরের ২০টি প্রভাবশালি সামাজিক রাজনৈতিক সংগঠন, “একশন কমিটি এগেইনস্ট টিপাইমুখ ড্যাম” এর ব্যানারে রাজপথে নেমেছেন। কারণ এতে উঃপুর্ব ভারতের লাভের চেয়ে লোকসানটাই বেশি হবে। আর প্রভুত ক্ষতি হবে পরিবেশের।

It is being said that this dam is being built for the greater interest of the people of North Eastern India by controlling the rivers to prevent flood in the Asam region and producing electricity. An information for the readers: according to international laws, without the consent of the downstream river nation and causing environmental damage no one country can control the multi-nation rivers alone. But the sad fact is that nobody cares for these international laws. The might is always right while interpreting these laws. As Bangladesh is not so powerful like India in economic and military contexts we always are pushed aside.Residents of the North Eastern parts of India were pampered with many baits of the Tipaimukh dam project, but they kept their cool. About 20 influential socio-political organizations in Manipur have united in the banner of “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project” and are protesting against the project. The reason – this dam will bring more miseries to those people than the profits pledged. And there will be severe damage to the environment.”

From India Namdingpou Kamei at E-Pao lists the losses and destruction this dam will bring to the local people.

# A total area of land 286.20 sq. km will be submerged forever.
# Barak waterfalls and Zeilad Lake, which are connected with the history of the Zeliangrong people, will be forever underwater and all folklores and legends will have no monuments’ proof and it will become a make up story for the next generation.
# More than, 40,000 people will be rendered landless.
# Eight villages situated at the Barak Valley will be completely underwater.
# More than 90 villages mostly of Tamenglong district will be adversely affected.
# About 27,242 hectares of cultivable land will be lost. [..]

The Indian government has offered the Manipur state 10% free electricity (i.e. 40 MW) from the project in exchange of above.

The Hmar indigenous population of North East India fears that:

if the government plows ahead with its proposed dam “thousands of outsiders” will come to settle in the area and as a result the Hmars will be exposed to changes like never before to new culture, economy and politics.

Dr. Soibam Ibotombi of Dept. of Earth Sciences, Manipur University says that the dam will be a geo-tectonic blunder of international dimensions:

The site selected for Tipaimukh project is one of the most active in the entire world, recording at least two major earthquakes of 8+ in the Reichter Scale during the past 50 years. The proposed Tipaimukh HEP is envisaged for construction in one of the most geologically unstable area as the proposed Tipaimukh dam axis falls on a ‘fault line’ potentially active and possible epicenter for major earthquakes.

At BanglaPraxis the impact of Tipaimukh dam in Bangladesh has been discussed.

Paribartan Bangla writes [bn] that several campaigns are ongoing in Sylhet, Bangladesh protesting the Tipaimukh dam. The blogger describes:

এই বাঁধ নির্মিত হলে সিলেট, সুনামগঞ্জ, মৌলভীবাজার, হবিগঞ্জ, ব্রাহ্মণবাড়িয়া, কিশোরগঞ্জ, নেত্রকোনা, নরসিংদী ও নারায়ণগঞ্জ জেলাসহ দেশের সমগ্র উত্তর-পূর্বাঞ্চলে মারাত্মক পরিবেশ ও আর্থিক বিপর্যয় নেমে আসবে। কৃষি, মৎস্য, জীববৈচিত্র্য হুমকির মুখে পড়বে। বর্ষাকালে প্রবল বন্যা আর শীতকালে পানির জন্য হাহাকার দেখা দিবে।

If this dam is built then the whole North Eastern Bangladesh, especially Sylhet, Sunamganj, Moulavibazar, Habiganj, Bramhonbaria, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Norshingdi & Narayanganj districts will face severe environmental and economical consequences. Agriculture, fisheries and wildlife will be under threat. There will be more flood in rainy season and less water in dry season.

No to Tipaimukh Dam

No to Tipaimukh Dam

Blogger Agami calls other bloggers [bn] to engage in online and offline campaigns to stop the project. A Facebook group has already been created by the bloggers. An online petition has been launched by the “Action Committee against Tipaimukh Project”.

Anandomoye writes [bn]:

উন্নত দেশগুলো যখন স্বল্প ও দীর্ঘমেয়াদি কুফলের কথা বিবেচনা করে বাঁধের মতো অবকাঠামো নির্মাণের মাধ্যমে প্রকৃতিকে নিয়ন্ত্রণের দুর্বুদ্ধি থেকে পিছিয়ে আসছে, সেখানে ভারতের এমন একটি বাঁধ নির্মাণের প্রস্তুতি আরো গভীর পর্যালোচনার দাবি রাখে।

When developed countries are backing out from controlling the nature through infrastructures like building dams, keeping the long term effect on environment in mind, the decision of India to build this dam requires more introspection.

(First published in Global Voices Online)


15 Responses to “No To Tipaimukh Dam”

  1. Engr Khondkar Abdus Saleque( Sufi)

    India as large neighbour must respect the right of lower riparian country Bangladesh while trying to control or regulate flow of any international river. Indian set up Farakha Dam which already impacted south west and central region of Bangladesh. Now Tipaimukh will impact North eastern region. Massive uncontrolled flooding in monsoon, water logging and desertification will create disasters. It does not need an expert to visualise what can happen if natural flow of a river is restricted and controlled. For generating 1500MW hydro power the fate 50 million people cannot be allowed to be thrown into uncertainty. Bangladesh must immediately raise official protest. If necessary, Bangladesh must take it to internal forum. No politics but we must rise together in national interest. This is an issue for which mass people must be made aware before any damage is done.

  2. Motaher Hossain

    Farakka projects or Tipaimukh projects neither of them is not political projects taken by India.India wants to build these projects in order to get electricity and irrigation facilties for their own interest not to put Bangladesh in a process to be desert.India does not care or did not think even the cosequences that fall in Bangladesh.But we have issues regarding these projects in regards the impact on us.

  3. Motaher Hossain

    First of all Bangladesh should take proper step to prevent India from building Tipaimukh dam by raising peoples voice and submitting protest in the International bodies.We have to make the world understand that India has no right to bypass international law to build the Tipaimukh dam which definitely will put the north eastern part of Bangladesh in converting to desert.Besides taking the issue to international bodies against this project Bangladesh has to draise.escavate all old and dead rivers and canals,digging, building embakments and lakes to hold suffient water for the needy times of the year.If we create more space deep enough to hold water in canals rires lakes ,ponds and allow chanelised flow of water throw the narrow river which actualyy will dig the river bed deeply.We don’t need 5-10 miles wide but shallow river.These shallow rivers and canals do not have the capacity to hold huge amount oawater rather help to errote and fill up the bed of the river.It is not posible to draise the big river beds mecahnically but can control by making the widh naroow with high and strong embankment though which water will chanalised and cut the river bed deeper.

  4. Saiful Ghoni

    Dhaka, Dec 30 (UNB) – A two-day international conference on ‘Tipaimukhi Dam’ began here Friday urging India not to implement the Tipaimukhi dam project in the interest of ecological balance in the South Asian region. Angikar Bangladesh Foundation (ABF), a Dhaka-based environmental organisation, organised the conference at the seminar room of Institution of Engineers Bangladesh with a slogan ‘development in harmony with nature’. Eminent writer and Professor of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology Dr Mohammad Zafar Iqbal opened the conference as chief guest. Chaired by Professor Khalequzzaman of Bangladesh Environment Network, the opening session was addressed, among others, by environmentalist Dr Inun Nishat, ActionAid country director Nasrin Haque, Dr Abdur Razzak MP, two Indian representatives Debapriya Roy and Dr RK Ranjan and engineer Md Hilaluddin. Dr Mohammad Zafar Iqbal said the proposed Indian Tipaimukhi dam in Monirampur would cause environmental disaster to Bangladesh as it might prompt earthquake, desertification and loss of navigability of rivers. “We’ll have to live with the nature preserving it in every possible way, not harming it. Blocking the natural flow of water may invite natural disaster,” he told the conference. Prof Khalequzzaman said India has so far built 4,291 dams on different

    waterbeds along the Indian-Bangladesh border without any discussion with Bangladesh. “Implementation of Tipaimukh dam by India will reduce the water flows in rivers Meghna, Kushiara of Bangladesh and Borak of India by nearly 17,354 qusecs,” he said. Inun Nishat said the Tipaimukh dam would cast a far-reaching adverse impact on Bangladesh, particularly on its water management. About sharing of water of common rivers, he said, “Water is a social resource, not economic or geographical resource. ”

    ActionAid country director Nasrin Haque termed the decision to construct the Tipaimukh dam as nothing but a “political” one.

  5. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma

    .
    INDIA’S HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT AT TIPAIMUKH AND
    THE HOT DEBATE IN BANGLADESH

    ABSTRACT:
    The government of India has taken up a project for the construction of a dam for the purpose of power generation at a place known as Tipaimukh on Barak river in Assam. After having preliminary information from that government, the government of Bangladesh under Begum Khaleda Zia got prepared a report regarding the affects of this dam on Bangladesh by a number of experts working as consultants. The report they gave was found mostly favorable for Bangladesh. This year, after the Indian government declared their program to initiate the project, the opposition party led by Begum Khaleda Zia nearly declared war saying that it would ruin the country. She has been successful in accumulating a number of like-minded experts and political leaders to speak in her favor. On the other hand, the government of Bangladesh seems to be in favor of its construction. In the meantime various experts and non-experts have expressed their ideas, explanations and predictions about the affects of the project. These have profusely confused the people, specially because while explaining matters some experts use technical terms in which the common people are not conversant. In such a situation this article would endeavor to give a transparent picture regarding the affects of the dam, reason of ‘war cry’ by the opposition, deficiencies of the present government to take right decision etc. avoiding unknown technical terms.

    INTRODUCTION :
    Before emptying it in the Bay of Bengal, river Karnafully was snaking her way through a number of hillocks in Chittagong hill tracts. In the years of heavy rain the river used to create flood and wash away everything including habitations on the river bank. Experts discovered that if a dam could be constructed on this river thus creating a large reservoir, it would be possible to (i) permanently solve the problem of seasonal flooding due to this river, (ii) generate large quantity of hydro-electricity, the cheapest type of energy, (iii) culture fish in the reservoir etc. They also discovered that its construction would create serious problems for the tribal people living in the to-be submerged areas. It was easily possible to rehabilitate these people. But the government of Pakistan did not take the issue seriously. Even though Islam declares equal rights for all, Pakistan, the Muslim country practiced the principle of having concern only for the Muslims and hating others. Naturally the tribal people found hard days. The country however, got huge power at minimal cost. Still today Bangladesh is enjoying that benefit.

    India discovered a similar site a Tipaimukh, where from they could generate hydro-electricity by constructing a dam. The government of India prepared a proposal for it at Tipaimukh, a place 100 miles upstream from Sylhet of Bangladesh and handed over the project proposal to the BNP-led government of Bangladesh in 1979. After this the project could not proceed as usual course because of India’s internal problems. The issue was raised again with the BNP-ruled government under Khaleda Zia in 1993. The Bangladesh government employed SNC-Lavalin International, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants to prepare a report. The report was given with the following observations :
    Due to the construction of dam at Tipaimukh :
    (i) “occurrence of flood will decrease in the Barak, Surma and Kushiara rivers”,
    (ii) “the amount of floodwater will decrease by 20 percent” and
    (iii) “water level in the Surma and Kushiara will decrease by 1.60 metres during floods”.
    India raised the issue of Tipaimukh dam with BNP government in the 35th and 36th meetings of Joint River Commission (JRC) in 2003 and 2005 respectively, where the then government did not oppose the idea.
    In 2009 when Bangladesh Awami League is in power, however, the same person (Khaleda Zia) raised severe objection against the construction of the dam, alleging it that would ruin Bangladesh. Begum Khaleda procured a number of experts and leaders to talk for her. At this time, various spokesmen of the government also explained the government’s views. Various claims, predictions, explanations and comments given by the opposition and the government have profusely confused the common people. In such a context the objective of this article is to find out the affects of this dam on the neighbouring country, Bangladesh, causes that encouraged Begum Khaleda to take the abnormal and new stunt and related issues.
    POINTS OF DEBATE :
    From the data’s so far received, (i) the dimensions of the dam will be : Height = 166 m, (or 180 m above sea level, 178 m maximum reservoir level and 136 m minimum draw down level), Length = 390 m, Water carrying capacity = 16 m cu m. It would submerge 266 families in 8 villages. The project would generate Electricity = 1500 MW. Estimated cost : App. Rs 1,078 crore.

    The speciality of location of the project is, it is an earth-quake prone zone near the meeting point of two tectonic plates with possibility of earth-quake in the range 7.0 in Richter scale. That indicates that India would have to design it strong enough to withstand this hazard. Needless to mention that the failure of the dam would bring disaster first in the 100 mile stretched land inside India and then, vast area of Bangladesh.

    Now we shall mention and clarify some of the points raised and confusingly explained by various leaders under Begum Khaleda’s influence.

    DAM AND RIVER WATER FLOW : Some people opine that the dam would reduce the flow of water in Barak river and its descending branches in Bangladesh. The fact is, after a dam for hydroelectricity project is commissioned, the authority would have to release all excess water from the dam for the safety of the dam and smooth running of the generators. So, it does not reduce water flow. The dam however, can give additional advantage of flood control by holding excess water in the rainy season and increase water flow in the winter by slowly releasing that water.

    DAM AND SILTATION : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create siltation in the rivers of Bangladesh. Such statements may be given by people lacking in intelligence. In a hydro-electric project only silt-free water is fed into the turbines below, and the over-flowing water (spillway) on top cannot contain silt.

    DAM AND EARTHQUAKE : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create earth quake due to weight of water or for drying of rivers. All these are wrong statement. Those who have little knowledge of geology and earth science know how huge and mighty the earth’s tectonic plates are, and in comparison how tiny or insignificant the reservoir or weight of the water in it are.

    DAM AND SALINITY : It is unfortunate that some of the leaders opine that the dam would result in increase of salinity in the region near the mouth of the river. Their ideas are erroneous. The salinity at the river mouth among many other factors depends upon the velocity of water emerging out through the river. In the rainy season it is pushed away due to rainy water from the origin and catchment area. The possibility of the same to move up may take place during the winter season when the flow is feeble. The release of water from the reservoir can improve the situation.

    DAM AND DESTABILIZING THE NATURE : Some people always think that any new project in the nature is harmful because it destabilizes the balance of nature. It is well known that whenever the original setup of the nature is interfered, there may some problems. However, intelligent and sincere men have always been able to solve those. Only the fools may shout for keeping everything in nature “unchanged” for the sake of “stability”. Had the intelligent men followed the principle of the fools, then the world would have still remained in the same primitive state. In case Kaptai dam was not constructed at the cost of many things including miseries for the tribal people, neither Bangladesh would enjoy the huge benefit of power nor the region would become free from the propensity of flood.

    PROBABLE PROBLEMS OF BANGLADESH :
    In case the design and commissioning of the project does not take place by keeping in view the necessities of Bangladesh, then Bangladesh would definitely suffer from some evil consequences. It should however, be mentioned that before Bangladesh starts suffering from those hazards, the 100-mile long Indian region on both sides of the river would start tasting those. The most severe problem may occur during the period of first-time filling of the reservoir. The process may take several years even with the entire annual supply of water. In such a situation the dam authority should continue the filling-process at a slow rate, such that the rivers in the down stream do not get dry.

    In the above situation Bangladesh should be kept closely associated with every aspects of the project. The river Barak flows in two countries such that both the countries have rights on its contributions like water, transport facilities, hydroelectricity etc. In case Bangladesh could contribute proportionate share of land and finance for the hydro-electric project, the country could claim the share of electricity. We know, the country is not in a position to do that.

    After the project is complete we shall find two new phenomenons. These are :
    (01) At present the country suffers from the varying flow of water in the river due to nature’s act on which no one has any control. After the construction of the dam, the control of water would depend up on human control, which will be in the hands of the operators in India. When the control is with the nature, Bangladesh cannot censure anyone for hazards. But after it would come to human hand, they can always hold the operating country responsible for genuine or fictitious reasons.
    (02) The huge quantity of sand, stone, fish etc. flowing from the Indian rivers is enjoyed by Bangladesh absolutely free. The construction of the dam would stop that possibility.

    In the above situation, there remain ethical reasons for Bangladesh to ask for a share in the generated electricity and India should consider the same, if not for logical reason, but as a gesture of goodwill.

    KHALEDA’S ABOUT-TURN :
    Those who do not have clear idea about Begum Khaleda and her party might find her recent attitude quite mysterious. The gentleman-like question is, why does the person who knew everything so well since 1993, who employed experts and got their positive comments, who were kept informed in 2003 and 2005, suddenly turns furious in 2009. In order to understand this mystery one needs to have in-depth knowledge of Begum Khaleda and her party.

    Begum Khaleda Zia, the ex-prime minister and now leader of the opposition is not highly educated, a harsh truth that compels her take advice from others in complicated matters. She however, fails to get advice of honest and superior quality persons, because the nature and principle of her party are not conducive for them. She does not have proven records of honesty, religious un-biasness or patriotism. Also she is renowned for short memory, anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani mentality. In addition, right now she is having extreme problems in organizing her party, rehabilitating her two sons, handling legal cases against the party members etc. Naturally she desperately looks for a platform for bargaining with the government.

    Brief descriptions of Begum Khaleda’s problems are mentioned here under :
    (i) Honesty : During the period of the caretaker government she whitened huge money. The amount is such as can never be earned honestly by the prime minister of this country. It has been reported that she sent over 300 boxes of valuable items to Saudi Arabia. No body still knows what materials or documents those boxes contained. She allowed her two sons to earn unlawful money. Part of this money has been detected in foreign banks.
    (ii) Religious biasness : She is well remembered for her statement that “Hindu religious sounds will be heard from the mosques if Awami League wins”. During her regime the minorities were treated as no class citizens. Her government and party’s atrocities on the minorities after her win in 2001 nearly shattered the world.
    (iii) Patriotism The people of Bangladesh are aware that before the 2001 election one ex-president of an influential country offered the Awami League chief to extend assistance in winning election in lieu of “gas deal”. The chief did not agree. Few months ago prime minister Sheikh Hasina disclosed this incident. She also disclosed that Begum Khaleda agreed to that proposal and won the election.
    (iv) Short memory : During her past regime, on one occasion she visited India and discussion on sharing of water at Farakka was one of the issues. After return she replied that did not do that because she “forgot”.
    (v) Anti-Indian mentality : Begum Khaleda is well known for her extreme anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani mentality. During her regime high officials allowed 10 truck-loads of arms and ammunitions to use Bangladesh territory to reach ULFA, one of the worst terrorist organizations of India. Also, during her tenure many top-grade culprits working against the interest of India and patronized by Pakistan got safe asylum in Bangladesh. These are being revealed now and there are ample reasons to believe that her government was associated with such incidents.
    (vi) Party problem : At present Begum Khaleda is entangled in serious problem with her party. The party could not do the most essential “Council” in 16 years and she has recently requested for extension of time for the same.

    CONCLUSION :
    In case Tipaimukh dam is constructed as per proper design and with due consideration of the interests and requirements of Bangladesh, then Bangladesh can be immensely benefitted from it. While the common people may think in this way, BNP, Begum Khaleda Zia’s opposition party however, may think differently. They are aware that good achievement or success of the present government would push away the possibility of their win the future elections. So, it is natural that they would endeavour their best such that the present government cannot do anything praiseworthy. In such a situation only the future can say, whether this project would at all be materialized.

    In the above issue, however, Bangladesh Awami League has committed the blunder at the very beginning by appointing one Hindu minister in the concerned ministry. They should have known that all the water related issues would have to be settled with India and a Hindu minister can never be the right choice for this job. Begum Khaleda, however, took full advantage of their mistake. The government should immediately appoint a Muslim minister in this position.

    As mentioned earlier, Prime minister Sheikh Hasina disclosed that she was proposed to sell gas to outsiders in lieu of assistance in election. She added that she declined, while the other party agreed and got elected. This time, however, before any foreigner could approach Begum Khaleda Zia her she sent a letter to the prime minister of India explaining her position in this issue. Does she expect the “same old proposal” from that corner? By all means, what is taking place in Bangladesh with the issue of Tipaimukh project of India is purely political. From what we have explained in extremely simple language, even a child with good knowledge of science would understand that, if properly designed and commissioned with due consideration of the interests of Bangladesh, what this dam can do for this country is complete control over flood due to some rivers and to increase water level during the winter months, what the experts have reported long ago.

    Bijon B. Sarma, Professor (on LPR), Khulna University, Khulna. Bangladesh.

  6. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma

    TIPAIMUKH DAM : MR. MEER HOSSAIN’S RESPONSE AND MY SUBMISSION

    Mr. Meer Husain, P.G., Environmental Geologist, Kansas, USA in his writing “India’s Hydro-Electric Project At Tipaimukh And The Hot Debate In Bangladesh-A Response to Professor Bijon Sarma” (date : Monday July 27 2009), requested me, among others to review the article titled “Construction of Tipaimukh dam-A Threat to the national interest of Bangladesh”, recently published in the NFB for a general idea about the advantages and disadvantages of hydro-electric dams”. Accordingly I went through those. The advantages and disadvantages of hydro-electric dam as mentioned in the article are given hereunder. The bracketed and underlined portions are my (Bijon B. Sarma’s) addition.
    (Quoted from the article : Construction of Tipaimukh dam – A Threat to the National Interest of Bangladesh by Meer Husain, Ref: http://www.newsfrombangladesh.net/view.php?hidRecord=274285
    Monday July 13 2009).
    ADVANTAGES :
    01. Once a dam is constructed, electricity can be produced at a constant rate. (What an discovery ?)
    02. If electricity is not needed, the sluice gates can be shut, stopping electricity generation. The water can be saved for use another time when electricity demand is high. The build up of water in the lake means that energy can be stored until needed, when the water is released to produce electricity. (This point is totally wrong and inapplicable in case of running rivers).
    03. Dams are designed to last many decades and so can contribute to the generation of electricity for many years / decades. (Excellent advise to be given to the children).
    04. The lake that forms behind the dam can be used for water sports and leisure / pleasure activities. Often large dams become tourist attractions in their own right. (Seems mockery in any serious discussion. These can never be the purpose of an expensive hydro-electric dam).
    05. The lake’s water can be used for irrigation purposes (Let the children know).
    06. When in use, electricity produced by dam systems do not produce green house gases. They do not pollute the atmosphere. (Unnecessary. Such point may be raised when one is comparing a thermal and a hydro electricity plant).
    07. Hydropower is a fueled by water, so it’s a clean fuel source. Hydropower doesn’t pollute the air like power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or natural gas. (Unnecessary, repetition and wastage of time to mention).
    08. Hydropower is a domestic source of energy, produced locally near where it is needed. (Let the kids know).
    09. Hydropower relies on the water cycle, which is driven by the sun, thus it’s a renewable power source so long as the rain keeps falling on the dam catchment area. (Excellent information for the kids).
    10. Hydropower is generally available as needed; engineers can control the flow of water through the turbines to produce electricity on demand. (Repetition. May be of interest to the kids).
    11. Hydropower is not only a cleaner source of energy than oil but is it more cost effective as well. The most efficient coal burning plants are only able to convert around 50 percent of their energy into electricity, whereas modern day hydro power turbines convert up to 90 percent of their energy into electricity. (Should have been mentioned when asked about better option).
    12. Hydropower can cost less than a penny per kWh (Kilowatt Hour) compared to fossil fuel power plants at around 2 to 3 cents per kWh. That may not seem like a big difference, but when factored out over a year and the millions of kW h’s Americans burn, it adds up to a huge savings. (This calculation is USA based and has absolutely no value in India or Bangladesh).
    13. Hydropower plants also have an added bonus as they create recreational opportunities for people as well as electricity. Hydro power dams provide not only water-based activities, but since much of the surrounding land is public they also encourage numerous other outdoor activities aside from boating, skiing, fishing, and hunting. (Repetition. Unnecessary).
    14. Hydropower plants provide benefits in addition to clean electricity. Impoundments hydro power creates reservoirs that offer a variety of recreational opportunities, notably fishing, swimming, and boating. Most hydro power installations are required to provide some public access to the reservoir to allow the public to take advantage of these opportunities. Other benefits may include water supply and flood control. (Repetition. Unnecessary).

    DISADVANTAGES :
    01. Dams are extremely expensive to build and must be built to a very high standard. (The children should know).
    02. The high cost of dam construction means that they must operate for many decades to become profitable. (Obvious, but why should one call it disadvantageous ? Who compelled you for quick profit ?)
    03. The flooding of large areas of land means that the natural environment is destroyed. (Flooding of large land may happen when the land is plain. For this reason dams are constructed only in terrain lands, like Chittagong hill tracts, Tipaimukh etc.).
    04. People living in villages and towns that are in the valley to be flooded, must move out. This means that they lose their farms and businesses. In some countries, people are forcibly removed so that hydro-power schemes can go ahead. (These are obvious. But these can be a subject of lesson for the students of elementary school and the NGO’s who would find out ways of making money from it).
    05. The building of large dams can cause serious geological damage. For example, the building of the Hoover Dam in the USA triggered a number of earth quakes and has depressed the earth’s surface at its location. (In this age, all those who go for constructing dams know and hence consider points).
    06. Although modern planning and design of dams is good, in the past old dams have been known to be breached (the dam gives under the weight of water in the lake). This has led to deaths and flooding. (Unnecessary point)
    07. Dams built blocking the progress of a river in one country usually means that the water supply from the same river in the following country is out of their control. This can lead to serious problems between neighbouring countries. (Dams “producing hydro-electricity and blocking water” may be something new that the world has not yet seen).

    08. Building a large dam alters the natural water table level. For example, the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt has altered the level of the water table. This is slowly leading to damage of many of its ancient monuments as salts and destructive minerals are deposited in the stone work from ‘rising damp’ caused by the changing water table level. (It is the example of a very specialized case having no general implication).
    09. Hydro power dams can damage the surrounding environment and alter the quality of the water by creating low dissolved oxygen levels, which impacts fish and the surrounding ecosystems. They also take up a great deal of space and can impose on animal, plant, and even human environments. (Good imagination).

    10. Fish populations can be impacted if fish cannot migrate upstream past impoundments dams to spawning grounds or if they cannot migrate downstream to the ocean. Upstream fish passage can be aided using fish ladders or elevators, or by trapping and hauling the fish upstream by truck. Downstream fish passage is aided by diverting fish from turbine intakes using screens or racks or even underwater lights and sounds, and by maintaining a minimum spill flow past the turbine. (Theoretical importance only. Kaptai lake has defied it long ago).
    11. Hydro power can impact water quality and flow. Hydro power plants can cause low dissolved oxygen levels in the water, a problem that is harmful to riparian (riverbank) habitats and is addressed using various aeration techniques, which oxygenate the water. Maintaining minimum flows of water downstream of a hydro power installation is also critical for the survival of riparian habitats. (Repeated)
    12. Hydro power plants can be impacted by drought. When water is not available, the hydro power plants can’t produce electricity. (New invention ? )
    13. New hydro power facilities impact the local environment and may compete with other uses for the land. Those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. Humans, flora, and fauna may lose their natural habitat. Local cultures and historical sites may be flooded. Some older hydro power facilities may have historic value, so renovations of these facilities must also be sensitive to such preservation concerns and to impacts on plant and animal life. (Repetition and unnecessary).
    14. By 2020, it is projected that the percentage of power obtained from hydro power dams will decrease to around four percent because no new plants are in the works, and because more money is being invested in other alternative energy sources such as solar power and wind power. (Unnecessary).

    As per Mr. Meer Husain’s advise I went though the above article in order to have “a general idea about the advantages and disadvantages of hydro-electric dams”. After I finished I could understand that these were written by a high school student accustomed to writing repeated, and at times unnecessary points to fill his answer sheet. Even though such answers may be “praiseworthy” for a student, mentioning these in a scientific article written by an Environmental Geologist is painful. It amused me to know that the answers were obtained from “Wikianswer.com”. Even though I use it at times to see and enjoy, what others say, I never advise my student to believe in answers from such unauthentic and often doubtful sources, where computer-crazy boys are the “source of knowledge”. I thank the boy giving the above answers, but I cannot do the same to an Environmental Geologist, using those in a serious article.

    In the said article Mr. Meer Hossain also mentioned the example of failure of a dam on May 12, 2008 in the Great Sichuan Earthquake in China that killed 70,000 people and left 5 million homeless. The incident is of course heartbreaking. But no one would be astonished for its failure when they would know (quoted from Mr. Meer Hossain’s article) : “The 511 foot high Zipingpu dam is(was) located (only) about 550 yards from the fault line and the epicenter of the earthquake was 3.5 mile away from the dam site.” If the engineers commit similar blunders in Tipaimukh, there will be disasters. But I am sure, they are more intelligent and would collect information from better and authentic sources.
    A country that goes for constructing a dam in its own land (at a distance of 150 kilometres from the border) knows how severely it will be affected due to its failure. It is now known to all that like Chittagong, the Sylhet-Monipur region also is earthquake-prone, and that during earth quake the vast water of the reservoir creates additional momentum. The engineers know these phenomenons much better. Also they know how to construct a befitting dam. If a country finds a potential site for producing hydro-electricity, in this age of science and technology, there is no reason to abandon the idea simply because “the region is earth-quake prone”, specially when the appropriate solution is at hand. The efficient running of Kaptai project should act as eye-opener for all.

    Professor (on LPR) Bijon B. Sarma. Khulna University.

  7. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma

    COMMENTS ON DR. NARGIS BANU’S PAPER AND
    ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF TIPAIMUKH DAM.

    PREAMBLE :
    When we write in websites normally we do not write with utmost seriousness, and we know the reason. Even though lapses/problems in languages are acceptable, in the articles on serious science-based subjects, ideas and thoughts by all means should be specific and expression of intelligence. I did not have any intention to review Environmental Geologist (Kansas, USA) Mr. Meer Husain’s article “CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM – A THREAT TO THE NATIONAL INTEREST OF BANGLADESH”. I did it because he requested me to go through that. Accordingly I did and published my submission. However, the time I went through his paper I was really shocked to see that a person with such expertise uses “a high-school student’s essay” collected from source like ‘wikianswer.com’ in his paper. Then I felt tempted to review Dr Nargis Banu’s article “PROTECT PEOPLE AND NATURE FROM TIPAIMUKH DAM”, posted by the Bangladesh Expatriate Council. Dr. Hasina Banu is an environmental scientist working with Sydney Water Corporation, Australia. It was mentioned that the paper was presented at a seminar at the Australian National University on July 3, 2009. By disclosing this information the writer has given us a scope to know what type of papers are presented in such seminars. This author has experiences of such presentations at home and abroad, including Australia.

    COMMENTS OF PAPER BY DR. NARGIS BANU
    01. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : At the beginning (probably Introduction, where Abstract is missing) Dr. Nargis Banu narrated the background story of Tipaimukh project. Here she mentioned two notable issues: (Quoted).
    (a) WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM, INDIA WOULD BE DIVERTING THE BARAK’S WATER FLOW FROM ITS NORTH TO ITS SOUTH AND EAST. IT WILL HAVE ADVERSE IMPACTS ON NATURE AND LIVELIHOOD IN THE NORTH-EASTERN DISTRICTS IN BANGLADESH.
    (b) NOW INDIA HAS STARTED ANOTHER INTERVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL RIVER BARAK AT TIPAIMUKH AND WILL CONSTRUCT A DAM AT FULERTAL (100 KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM FROM TIPAIMUKH) BY 2012.

    MY SUBMISSION : The truth is, India initiated construction of a barrage at Fulertal (adjacent to Bangladesh border) long ago and the same has now been abandoned. Now India has proposed for the construction of a dam for the production of hydroelectricity at Tipaimukh, a place located at a distance of over 150 kilometres. Dam and Barrage are two different things. Where as withdrawal of water is the essential objective of barrage, a dam may or may not have such provision. India has already assured that there will be no withdrawal of water. In such a situation a comment like “WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM, INDIA WOULD BE DIVERTING THE BARAK’S WATER FLOW FROM ITS NORTH TO ITS SOUTH AND EAST” is misleading. And if this statement is wrong, the comment based on it and expressed in the following line i.e. (quoted) “IT WILL HAVE ADVERSE IMPACTS ON NATURE AND LIVELIHOOD IN THE NORTH-EASTERN DISTRICTS IN BANGLADESH” is also wrong.

    Those who are aware of the topography, soil condition and climate of Monipur region might know that this region does not really need such diversion of water for irrigation. Let me briefly explain the reason.
    There may be two prominent reasons of depositing water in the mountains or hills.
    (a) In the high rocky mountains water is deposited in cavities and on the picks as ice during the winter. In the summer season those melt and flow down.
    (b) The earth-made hills and mounds get wet during rains and release that water as spring or fall, resulting in small canals (local name “Chhara”). Depending of the size of the mounds, this water may flow throughout the year.
    While the main source of water in Barak river is the first type, that locally used in Monipur region belongs to the second type.

    02. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : The author has given some information to prove that there is probability of severe earthquakes in this region.
    MY SUBMISSION : It is an established fact that
    (a) Monipur-Assam-Sylhet zone is highly earthquake prone,
    (b) Large deposit of water at heights intensifies vibration during earth-quake and
    (c) Breaking of dam during such hazard would cause havoc.
    It is obvious that when such a site is found economically feasible and ecologically superior (in comparison with other means of generation of electricity) for a hydro-electric project, the engineers would go for the construction of a safe dam, even if it is costly. In case of breakage of this dam the most affected country will be India due to the following two major reasons :
    (a) Failure of an extremely expensive project and
    (b) Catastrophic flooding in the 150 kilometre-stretched land within India.

    03. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : The author mentioned (quoted) “THE EXPERT APPRAISAL COMMITTEE OF INDIA REVEALED THAT THE DESIGN OF THE DAM CONTAINS MANY ERRORS, AND OMISSIONS, AND FALLS SHORT OF COMPLIANCE OF STANDARDS SET BY THE SCIENTIFIC AND ACADEMIC COMMUNITY IN INDIA AND THE WORLD”.

    MY SUBMISSION : The fact is, the design of Tipaimukh dam has not been finalized. No one should wonder about such comments by various corners (like, expert appraisal committee) during the preliminary stage of its preparation.

    04. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “INDIA CONDUCTED DETAILED STUDIES, COMPLETED THE FINAL DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH BANGLADESH AS A DOWNSTREAM STAKEHOLDER”.

    MY SUBMISSION : The statement like “COMPLETED THE FINAL DESIGN” is definitely untrue.

    05. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “INDIAN GOVERNMENT HAS NOT CLEARLY STATED THE AMOUNTS OF WATER THAT WILL BE STOPPED OR DIVERTED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM”.

    MY SUBMISSION : The author’s statement is not only untrue, but also misleading because the Indian government has stated that it would not divert any water.

    06. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “THE EROSION JUST DOWNSTREAM OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WOULD BE EXCESSIVELY HIGH AND THIS EROSION WOULD CONTINUE AS LONG AS HUNDRED KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM OR MORE IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA SYSTEM”.

    MY SUBMISSION : This statement is wrong. As a matter of fact, after a dam is constructed, the erosion in the down stream is reduced. Let me explain the reason in brief. Soil erosion among other factors depends upon on the velocity of water. The velocity depends among others on two principal factors : (a) Quantity of water and (b) Inclination (also known as gradient) of flow-path. After the construction of the dam, the flow of water will be less in the lower region during monsoon months (because the dam would reserve additional water) and the same would increase a little during lean period. In fact the flow would never attain the highest level that it had before the construction of the dam.

    As we mentioned, the flow also depends upon inclination of flow-path. A dam constructed on a river considerably reduces this inclination. The dam in fact utilizes the potential energy (in this case energy stored in water due to gravitational force) of the water in the reservoir. After the water starts its fresh journey from a considerably lower level, it loses degree of inclination. Naturally it loses velocity and eroding capability.

    07. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “THE … DEPOSITION …. WILL RAISE THE OVERALL BED LEVEL OF THE RIVERS”. About the affects of silting she commented (01) “… AN EXTREME CASE IT WOULD BLOCK THE MOUTH OF CERTAIN TRIBUTARIES, and (02) “WILL INDUCE THE AVERAGE MONSOON FLOOD TO BECOME MODERATE TO SEVERE FLOOD IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA FLOODPLAIN”.

    MY SUBMISSION : All these are against the natural rule of science. The fact is, the water carried by the river after the dam would create less siltation because (i) It would erode less due to the reduced velocity of water and (ii) The dam would arrest the entire sedimentation particles coming from above.

    08. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ABOUT 71 PER CENT OF THE UPPER SURMA-KUSHIARA BASIN AREA WOULD NO LONGER BE FLOODED. … THE KUSHIARA-BARDAL HAOR …. WOULD BECOME COMPLETELY DRY. THE KAWARDIGHI HAOR …. LOSE AROUND 2,979 HA (26 PER CENT).”.

    MY SUBMISSION : If it really happens like it, then the people of this area would think them fortunate to become free from flood hazard and to get new land.

    09. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ … KUSHIARA WOULD CUT ITS CONNECTION WITH ITS RIGHT BANK FLOODPLAIN …… AND THIS PART WILL BECOME ‘RESERVOIR RIVER’ RATHER THAN A MOST VALUABLE ‘FLOODPLAIN RIVER” (prophesy).

    MY SUBMISSION : If this prophesy is based on the author’s hypothesis of “increased siltation”, then I have explained why it would not take place. However, those who have knowledge of soil structure, inconsistency of river flow etc. of Bangladesh can guess that the new situation might help in straightening the snaking and winding courses of some rivers, thus generating a number of ox-bow lakes. This should be taken as a positive contribution because the more land the rivers would release the better it would be for the country.

    10. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE DEPENDENT ON … BARAK FOR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES. THE DAM WOULD CAUSE THE SURMA AND KUSHIARA TO RUN DRY FROM NOVEMBER TO MAY”.

    MY SUBMISSION : This is a wrong statement. The fact is, release of submerged land due to lower level of water in the rainy season and straightening of rivers may release more land, such that more people may be engaged in agriculture. Before making such a statement the author should have studied the basic principle on which a dam for hydraulic project works. Let me explain briefly.
    In hydro-electric project the available height of water in the reservoir above the exit-hole is of extreme importance. For the running of the generators water has to be constantly released from the reservoir. The quantity of power generated is proportional to the height of water in the reservoir. With normal discharge let the height of water during the rainy season is (all arbitrary numbers) say, 100 Feet and that in the lean period (i.e. winter) say, 50 Feet. For optimum production and economic feasibility the designers would have to arrange generators to run by a height in between these two figures (not necessarily the average). Let us say this number is 60 Feet. In this case the generators would not be able to run at full swing unless during winter nonths unless there is arrangement for storing additional water in the reservoir. This indicates, what the Tipai-authority would do for the smooth-running of their plant throughout the year is, storing extra water during the peak period and releasing the same during lean period. This is exactly what the experts employed by Khaleda Zia’s BNP government opined, and to which any scientist or expert would have to agree.

    N.B. STRAIGHTENING OF RIVER : It should be noted here that human interference is essential for initial straightening of river. In the country with soft soil, intermittent flow acts against straightening. Once the rivers are cut straight and constant flow is ensured, river may continue to flow in straight line. Such a program can release huge land on both sides.

    11. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “SHORTAGE OF WATER IN THESE FEW MONTHS WOULD DECREASE THE BOOST OF GROUNDWATER. OVER THE YEARS THIS WOULD LOWER THE GROUNDWATER LEVEL, WHICH IN TURN WOULD AFFECT ALL DUGOUTS AND SHALLOW TUBE-WELLS. AGRICULTURE DEPENDENT ON BOTH SURFACE AS WELL AS GROUNDWATER WOULD ALSO BE AFFECTED. ARABLE LAND WILL DECREASE AND PRODUCTION OF CROPS WILL FALL, LEADING TO AN INCREASE IN POVERTY”.

    MY SUBMISSION : After we know the report of the expert committee formed by BNP government during FAP (Flood Action Plan) project, we have to ignore her prophesies.

    12. DR. NARGIS BANU IN HER PARAGRAPH ON “BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY” SAYS : (quoted) “CONSTRUCTION OF A HIGH DAM WILL OBSTRUCT THE MIGRATORY PATH OF FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC FAUNA… (AND SILT, “MICRONUTRIENTS”)”.

    MY SUBMISSION : This comment on FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC FAUNA is correct, the claim of preventing of “MICRONUTRIENTS” however, is not. What is true is, as soon as the flowing mountain-river water would come to a stand-still at the reservoir, there will be considerable changes in the micro-nutrients, fish and other aquatic animals. The dam would not arrest the micronutrients, even though it would not be possible for larger fish to escape. However, nowadays it is made possible by using fish-pass.

    13. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ABOVE IMPACTS WOULD DESTROY THE NATURAL INTEGRITY OF THE ECOSYSTEM, LOSING RIVERINE HABITAT AND SPECIES, AND A LACK OF ENRICHMENT OF LAND WITH THE NUTRIENT-FULL SILT. THIS WOULD LEAD TO THE ULTIMATE DECLINE IN THE NATURAL PRODUCTIVITY OF THE TWO MOST ABUNDANT RESOURCES OF BANGLADESH – LAND AND WATER”.

    MY SUBMISSION : From what I have explained above, the above statement is wrong. However, even though we do not know what type of changes would take place in the micro-nutrients, from the experience of Kaptai dam we may guess, it would not be anything hazardous.

    14. DR. NARGIS BANU IN HER PARAGRAPH “CLIMATE CHANGE” DAYS (quoted) : “THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WILL PERMANENTLY SUBMERGE AN AREA OF 275.50 SQUARE KILOMETRES IN INDIA”.

    MY SUBMISSION : This one is India’s problem and they would consider it in comparison with their gain from the project.

    15. OTHERS : The author’s claim on “DAM BREAK AND HUMAN CATASTROPHES” has been answered earlier. In her paragraph on “WATER QUALITY” she said : (quoted) “THE EROSION AND SEDIMENTATION DOWNSTREAM OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WOULD BE EXCESSIVELY HIGH AND WOULD CONTINUE AS LONG AS OVER 600 KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM IN BANGLADESH. THIS EXCESSIVE EROSION DOWNSTREAM OF THE DAM WOULD INCREASE THE OVERALL SILTATION AND WATER TURBIDITY IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA SYSTEM. THESE WILL ADVERSELY AFFECT THE WATER QUALITY OF THE ENTIRE SURMA-KUSHIARA-MEGHNA SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH”. I have already mentioned why the author’s conceptions of increased siltation and erosion are wrong.

    She also said, “THE DAM WILL HAVE WARMING IMPACT DUE TO METHANE DEGASSING FROM THE RESERVOIR”. Those who are aware of the quantity of degassing from (i) Huge marshy lands throughout the world, (ii) Water-dipped rice fields and domestic cattle in Asia and Africa, (iii) Rotten leaves and algae deposited in the oceans would just laugh to hear about the “additional methane gas generated in 275 Square Kilometre area”. I failed to understand the comment “CARBON EMISSIONS OF LARGE DAM CONSTRUCTION”.

    The author has mentioned some information in the paragraph “VIOLATION OF LAWS AND AGREEMENT” about which I have nothing to say.

    ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES OF DAM FOR BANGLADESH :
    DISADVANTAGES :
    (i) Due to the construction of the dam Bangladesh would lose silt, sand and fish coming through Barak river. By special arrangement and design, however, the movement of fish can be retained.

    ADVANTAGES : (i) Due to its construction it will be possible to control flood due to Barak river and its tributaries in Sylhet region.
    (ii) Considerable portion of land can be saved from inundation during the rainy season.
    (iii) During winter irrigation may be easier due to higher level of water.
    (iv) There will be less silting in the tributaries of Barak river.
    (iv) There will be less erosion in these rivers.

    CONCLUSION : I am least worried about the construction of Tipaimukh dam. It is a project by the Indian government, who would get cheap electricity from it. Due to its construction Bangladesh would lose silt, sand and fish coming through Barak river. With due cooperation of the authorities however, Bangladesh (i) can achieve control over flood by ensuring less flow of water during monsoon, (ii) may have easy irrigation in the winter due to higher level of water etc. This plain truth has been expressed by the expert committee employed by the BNP government long ago. When motivated politicians (like those from the opposition) shout against this project with all sorts of unscientific, imaginary, biased and non-intelligent remarks, I understand the reason. And I endeavour to expose the secret reason, where possible. But when men of science express non-intelligent remarks, I fail to understand the reason and feel the need for protest.

    I however, did not protest against Mr. Meer Hosain’s writings. When he expressed his response to one of my writing I just replied. In his response he requested me to acquire knowledge on certain issues from one of his writing. I went through that and was shocked to know that he used the “answers” from computer-crazy school boys. Had I known it earlier, I definitely would not have wasted my time. In course of reading that I came across the article of Dr Nargis A Banu, an environmental scientist working with Sydney Water Corporation, Australia. I became specially interested because it was Posted by Bangladesh expatriate council and earlier presented in a seminar at the Australian National University.

    I got interested in it due to my experiences of similar presentations abroad including Australia. But after reading it, I came confused to differentiate between a scientific paper and an essay written by the column writer. I know how a column writer writes his essay. He picks up a running or important issue, decides in which way he wants to motivate his readers inclusive of common people, bureaucrats and political leaders and then starts writing. In doing so he picks up those data, information and comments that would help him to reach the targeted destination and at the same time avoids all those might go against. He cares least for honesty and most for fulfilling his objective. Such an endeavour is completely quite different from a scientific paper to be presented in international seminars/conferences. After such a paper is presented it comes in the discussion of the community of wise-people. And when published in the website (as happened this time due to the courtesy of the Bangladesh expatriate council) it comes within the domain of discussion of the common people. Instantly the people know what type of papers are presented in such seminars.

    As I mentioned, scientific papers are different from the column writer’s essays. Such papers are revelations of facts. Here the scientist does not keep any preconceived idea like “I will prove it, or disprove that”. The approach of the scientist will be, “I believe this is the truth. So I shall try to prove it with the knowledge and revelations so far made by science. In case I do not get defence from these sources, it will be my hypothesis”.

    A scientists’ deliberations or course of thought will be different even from that of a university teacher. The teacher of a university is supposed to teach generalized principles, applicable in general throughout the world. In doing so, most of the time he needs to simplify things. The teacher does not have the time or scope to show how those principles apply in various conditions. The duty of the researcher/scientist is to make threadbare analysis of the situation in which those principles would apply and observe how the results differ from the preconceived ones and why. Only such findings are expected to be presented in scientific papers for international seminars. From Dr Nargis A Banu’s paper it seemed to me as if she first made up her mind to show that “Tipaimukh dam would cause serious damage for Bangladesh” (alike what the column writers do). And then she started presenting information and analysis in favour of her conviction, many of which were self contradictory. I find weakness in her analysis also. For example, when someone visits the site of a dam, he usually finds water falling down from a great height, resulting in turbulence in muddy water below and then, water to rush away. That might initiate the general concept of “erosion and sedimentation” in the river. I have endeavoured to show in details, (i) why the river starting after a dam loses flow of water, (ii) why the water loses velocity and (iii) why this water carries less silt etc.

    Once again I beg to state that I have little interest regarding the construction of Tipaimukh. I know many important and essential projects are not taken up because “those do not fulfil the personal interests of the dishonest group among the concerned authorities”. On the other hand, a project that in no way is justified in the overall condition of the country is taken, because it satisfies the above condition. “Underground rail line in Dhaka city” is one such project. Probably this project is going to be materialized because it is capable of ensuring financial benefit for some.

    For the above reason, when I write about Tipaimukh, I only endeavour to show the science-based truth to the best of my knowledge and experience. I believe, the scientists and experts should continue in their predestined track, which is so pure and true, and which is so different from those of the politicians and column writers. Seeing “column writers’ essays” as scientific papers is really painful.
    Lastly I express my sorrow to those who may be hurt due to my writing.
    Prof. (on LPR) Bijon B. Sarma, Khulna University. Bangladesh.

  8. Sabrina Ahmad

    Mr. Sarma, I found your first posts giving the Tipaimukh dam debate a political dimension to be indicative of your political bias. What the BNP did years ago is not the issue here and I doubt your motive for starting that debate – the real issue is what the present government will do since India is pressing ahead with construction of the Dam. Please do not try to insinuate that the Opposition to Tipaimukh is led by BNP. It is a national issue, not a political one

    I find that your subsequent posts are not only arrogant (dismissive of other experts, and you mention “beggars”?) but also running counter to established scientific thought. The harmful effects of large hydel dams are now well established. Even the World Commission on Dams which had representatives of Dam building companies, acknowledged this in its final report in 2000. Would you dismiss all these international experts?

    For an objective analysis based on the Indian EIA report on Tipaimukh dam, and a thorough study of the downstream ecology, I would suggest these Daily Star pieces by Syed Zain Al-Mahmood.

    The Dam Debate http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2009/07/02/cover.htm

    The Dam Documents
    http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2009/07/04/followup.htm

    Good articles that nicely sum up the scientific data. The evidence clearly shows that disruption of the natural rhythm of the rivers would have a devastating effect on food security in the Northeast, and affect the lives of 20 million people of the Surma basin. The Dam would make su strategically dependent on India for our water, and would also expose us to the risk of a “wall of water coming down the river” in case of an earthquake.

  9. J. Haider

    By looking at this article one can clearly see how our country is divided on the Tipaimukh issue (unfortunately), and who’re the people more interested to appease India (and who’re behind them) than to protect the interest of their own people or his own country; knowing fully well what is wrong and what is right!!

  10. Javed Zaman

    I see a healthy debate going on about the pros and cons of the Tipaimukh ‘dam’ issue. Its a positive sign in any democracy. Since South Asia is basking under democracy for the first time I am very optimistic about a win-win scenario for both Bangladesh and India without tipping the balance in favour of a man-made natural disaster.

    Its a national issue and it has to be worked out at the prime ministerial level.

    Since our competent, good-intentoned MPs haven’t been able to land the helicopter there owing to inclement weather I would request NDTV to bring the issue to the forefront through a feature program on the Tipaimukh project which is not yet a dam under construction. I think they can throw light on the technical, political, global, ecological, environmental and financial aspect and especially its effect on downstream water flow through riverine Bangladesh.

  11. khan jamal

    Tipaimukh dam is very Danger for our green Sylhet Division including Bangla desh.It will be a dessart very near futur. Present Govt. did not care for our 160m Inhabitants. Thanks a lot.

    Khan jamal
    France

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