Terms of Reference of Tipaimukh joint study okayed by Bangladesh, India

India yesterday handed over a copy of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Tipaimukh Hydropower Project to Bangladesh as the two countries finalised the Terms of Reference for a joint study on the dam’s impact.

টিপাইমুখ বাঁধ নিয়ে গবেষণার কাঠামো চূড়ান্ত

At the end of a two-day meeting of the Indo-Bangladesh joint subgroup on the proposed dam project, India handed over the five-volume DPR to Bangladesh to enable it carry out an impact study on the hydroelectric dam to be built on the Barak river in northeastern Indian state of Manipur.

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The meeting, after detailed discussions, finalised the ToR with a view to facilitating the conduct of the joint study. However, no timeline has been finalised to complete the study.

Bangladesh will examine the DPR and carry out a joint study of the possible impacts of the proposed project on the relevant areas in Bangladesh, said a press statement issued by Mir Sajjad Hossain, member of the Joint Rivers Commission who headed the Bangladesh delegation.

India also assured Bangladesh to provide additional and supplementary data and information if required for the study. In the ToR, it was also agreed that the subgroup may undertake field visits to facilitate the study, the statement added.

Based on the study, the subgroup will recommend measures to their respective governments.

This was the first meeting of the joint subgroup which will study and amend, if required, the study before vetting it. The next meeting of the subgroup will be held in Dhaka on mutually agreed dates, the statement said.

The study is likely to examine the location of the dam and its impact on catchment areas, flora and fauna, biodiversity and ecology on the Bangladeshi side, sources said.

The meeting of the subgroup was convened in line with the desire of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to conduct a joint study to assess the possible impacts in Bangladesh due to proposed Tipaimukh project and earlier decisions of the JRC meetings, said the statement.

The Tipaimukh project has given rise to widespread concerns in Bangladesh over its impact on the availability of water in the Surma, Kushiara and Meghna rivers and the irrigation and environment of the lower riparian country.

Though no impact assessment was conducted yet, India on the other hand, has repeatedly assured at the highest level that it would not do anything in the project which would go against Bangladesh’s interests.

India also said the barrage at the project site would release more water to Bangladesh during dry season and control the same during monsoon to save the lower riparian country from floods.

India has also invited Bangladesh to buy a stake in the 1,500 megawatt Tipaimukh power project and get electricity.

During his visit to Dhaka in September last year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured Bangladesh that New Delhi will not do anything in connection with the dam that will hurt the interests of the lower riparian country.

Besides Mir Sajjad Hossain, the 14-member Bangladesh delegation at the subgroup meeting included among others Mashfee Binte Shams, director general (South Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The 13-strong Indian team was led by Devendra Sharma, commissioner (Ganga), Ministry of Water Resources and member, JRC.

Both the sides expressed happiness at the convening of the first meeting of the subgroup and said this would contribute to further strengthening of friendly bilateral relations adding a new dimension to it, a press statement of the foreign ministry, Bangladesh said.

A statement issued by India’s Ministry of Water Resources said “both sides finalised the Terms of Reference under which study in Bangladesh territory to assess the impact of Tipaimukh project would be conducted”.

During the meeting, India restated its offer to Bangladesh to take a stake in the Tipaimukh project and in this context handed over the DPR to the Bangladesh delegation, it said.