June 15, 2009

Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project and Bangladesh

The Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project is being constructed near the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in Manipur, India and within 100km of Bangladesh border. The 164 meter high dam will have a firm generation capacity of 401.25MW of electricity.
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 nobody cares for these international laws. 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)”.
The proposed dam is only 100 km away from Bangladesh border and even at the construction phase will have an impact on Bangladesh, let alone after its completion.Although the dam is designed to generate electricity and not to divert water from the river, the fact is that India by constructing it is to change or modify the traditional flow and use of the Barak river, that constitutes the source of two rivers, Surma and Kushiara, in Sylhet, which in turn feed the mighty Meghna river of Bangladesh.The anxiety for Bangladesh is that India has not taken Bangladesh into confidence on the details of the dam and therefore Bangladesh cannot properly assess as to how the dam will affect Bangladesh.

Tipaimukh Dam and its effects on Bangladesh:

The use of water of rivers is of two kinds:
(a) Non-consumptive (does not reduce the flow of water of the river)
(b) Consumptive( reduce the flow of water of the river)

For example, dam for hydro-electric power (Kaptai Dam) may be called non-consumptive use, while diversion of water through barrage and feeder canal (Farakka Barrage) is for consumptive use.

Although Tipaimukh Dam may not reduce water, it certainly changes the traditional flow of water that has been running since time immemorial.. The change of river flow of water through construction of a dam would have many ramifications on the lower riparian country, Bangladesh.


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