Tipai team leaves for India

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Dhaka, July 29 (ANI): A 10-member parliamentary delegation formed to visit the Tipaimukh dam site in India left Dhaka this morning.

According to the Daily Star, the team is led by Abdur Razzak, president of the parliamentary standing committee on water resources ministry.

The Bangladeshi delegation will meet India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi this evening.

"We will seek information on the Tipaimukh dam from India giving highest importance to our country's interest," Razzak, also a former water resources minister, told reporters moments before flying off to India at the Zia International Airport.

Bangladesh will seek Indian assurance that water from trans-boundary rivers will not be diverted, and will propose a joint study for assessing the impacts of controversial Tipaimukh dam.

The delegation expects to get from the Indian authorities a first hand appraisal of the geo-environmental impacts of the largest hydroelectric project in the eastern part of that country.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked Razzaq to get a clear picture of the Indian dam plan, for removing all confusions about it.

The visit takes place amid mounting concerns both in Bangladesh and northeastern India over the probable environmental cost of the high dam to be constructed 500 metres downstream of the confluence of Tuivai and Barak rivers in the Indian district of Churachanpur near the Manipur-Mizoram border.

Barak is the source of water for both the Surma and Kushiyara two major rivers that enter Bangladesh through Sylhet borders, meeting together further downstream to constitute the Meghna river.

India plans to complete constructing the dam in 87 months at a cost of 5,855.83 crore Indian rupees to generate up to 1,500 megawatts of hydroelectric power.

While India dispels environmental concerns claiming to have no intention to retain and redirect the normal water flow of the trans-boundary river, Bangladesh is concerned about the prospect that India might build a barrage as a part of the Tipaimukh project, 100 kilometres downstream at Fulertal, for using the Barak water for irrigation purposes.

The visiting delegation is also expected to call on the Indian energy minister. On Friday, they will fly to Guwahati, and then to the proposed dam site.

The team is expected back in Dhaka on August 3 and will submit a report to the prime minister.

Other lawmakers included in the delegation are Awami League's Abdur Rahman, and AKM Fazlul Haq, Jatiya Party's ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader, and an independent lawmaker Fazlul Azim. The expert delegates are Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Professor Monwar Hossain, and Sajjad Hossain of Bangladesh-India Joint Rivers Commission. The water resources secretary, and a director general of the foreign ministry are also in the team. (ANI)

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