Bangladesh has set a wrong and bad precedent by agreeing to seek India’s permission to draw 153 cusecs of water from the Kushiara River within the country. Due to this agreement, India can intervene if Bangladesh wants to extract water from the joint rivers of Bangladesh and India from now on. Experts said these things at a press conference titled ‘India-Bangladesh Relations: Rivers, Borders and Power’. A magazine named ‘Sarbajanakatha’ organized an online press conference this Saturday morning.
It was said in the press conference that Bangladesh should sign the International Watercourses Act of 1997 of the United Nations. Solving the overall problem including water distribution of all joint rivers of the country through international law.
In this regard, the teacher of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in the United States. Khalekuzzaman said that it was not necessary to seek permission from India to draw 153 cusecs of water inside Bangladesh. Bangladesh could complain that they have closed canals on the Indian side of the Kushiara River, built several irrigation and power projects, which have and will continue to affect Bangladesh. India did not feel the need to seek Bangladesh’s permission for these. This agreement was made for internal water management of Bangladesh, it is wrong and a bad precedent has been set by Bangladesh. After this, if any kind of internal water management is done in the country, India can say that even if it is inside Bangladesh, it will affect India as well. Because it is part of a joint river.
Khalekuzzaman said, if India says now, they have an agreement with Bangladesh. Bangladesh will be able to take 153 cusecs of water, rest of the water belongs to India. He wants to know whether there is any mention in the agreement about what Bangladesh will do if India starts controlling the rest of the water on the pretext of this agreement.
He also commented that this agreement was not fair and correct. Khalekuzzaman. He said that the agreement does not mention how the water and sediment of the entire basin will be managed. There is no provision in the agreement as to whether they will provide subsidies or compensation for the environmental damage already caused by the power and irrigation projects. If they take such a project in the future, will they deal with Bangladesh according to international law or not?
In order to increase the tide of development, the government of Bangladesh has promised to cultivate 10,000 hectares of land with 153 cusecs of water. Khalekuzzaman also commented that it is not possible to cultivate more than 3,700 hectares of land with this water. He said, to use Kushiara water, it has to be taken upstream for irrigation, which is not reasonable.
Anu Muhammad, a teacher of Jahangirnagar University, said that it is completely incomprehensible why only 153 cusecs of water will be withdrawn, and Bangladesh will also withdraw the river water of Bangladesh. How can the government show it as a success? India has built dams and various projects on the Kushiara. For that they did not take any kind of permission from Bangladesh.
Mentioning that it is not understandable why Bangladesh has not signed the international water flow law, Anu Muhammad said, as a basin country, it is very important for Bangladesh. A charter for the protection of downstream countries is the United Nations International Water Act; the Bangladesh government must sign this law. Pressure should be created for India to sign as well. He demanded that all the problems of the joint rivers of Bangladesh with India and other countries should be properly resolved according to the international water flow law.
Professor Anu Muhammad also demanded an international investigation into border killings, emphasis on increasing national capacity by reducing energy dependence and clarifying the agreement reached with India regarding transit.
Dhaka University teacher Tanjim Uddin Khan said in a press conference that 1,253 Bangladeshis were killed on the border from 2000 to 2021. It continues due to lack of effective measures to stop border killings.
Dhaka University teacher Moshahida Sultana expressed concern over the increase in Bangladesh’s electricity and energy dependence on India. He said, if the Indian projects (in Bangladesh and India) are implemented, India’s participation in Bangladesh’s electricity sector will be around 16 percent. With this, India’s participation in the energy sector will increase to more than 20 percent if the oil import starts through the pipeline under construction. If they become dependent on India in the power and energy sector, they will get a chance to control the country.