Flexing muscles never helps in water disputes: Bangladesh envoy

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New Delhi, June 8 (ANI): Advocating a new paradigm of collaborative approach to water management in South Asia to harness water optimally for all stake holders, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, Mr. Tariq Ahmed Karim, has advised India to sit down with China to sort out the dispute over river Brahmaputra.

The High Commissioner said flexing of muscles would never help. "Our experiences show that it has never helped. Our tough stand with India did not work. Things started moving when we sat down and discussing the issue with India," he said while speaking at a roundtable discussion on 'Water Security in South Asia: Building Trust for Cooperation' organized by Observer Research Foundation in collaboration with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Germany.

Noting the concerns in India over reports of Chinese move to divert water upstream Brahmaputra in Tibet, India are in the same position now as Bangladesh were earlier. He said India too did not understand the concerns of Bangladesh then.

Saying that the governments are trying to avoid domestic conflicts by diverting the issue, the High Commissioner opined that India would also do the same if it is in China's place. He said while China has only 8 per cent of global water resources against 22 per cent of world population, India is only slightly better.

The High Commissioner also reiterated his idea that the region should have a new paradigm of sub regional cooperation to deal with issues effectively, as SAARC is not going anywhere.

He suggested that SAARC countries can be grouped into three -- one, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, two, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, and three, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said these groups can work much effectively bringing together all the stake holders like states, local governments, people, etc. to solve issues which were "hostage to partition syndrome".

The High Commissioner also stressed on the need to control ground water exploitation, calling for a law to throw away bore wells. He said lack of enough ground water is threatening many high rise buildings in his country and already one building has been destroyed while another one is going to be razed to the ground next week.

Former Union Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu also underlined the need for moving to collaborative and cooperative approach. He said one of the best examples in the region is Bhutan model where India and Bhutan share the benefits of collaboration.

Mr. Prabhu, who handled the issue of water in various capacities in the Cabinet, also pointed out the fact that, unlike anywhere else in the world, three of the countries in the region involved in water disputes have nuclear arms. He called for people-to-people cooperation to address water issues.

The discussion was chaired by Mr. Sunjoy Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, who also stressed the need for a collaborative approach, rather than a competitive approach, to deal with the issues by uniting the stake-holders. (ANI)

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