Towards Understanding the Tipaimukh Affair

So the Water Resources Minister of Bangladesh is a bit of a plonker. Plonker is a charitable description, because the other interpretation leads to a very dark place. He goes to India, declares that the Tipaimukh Dam is not a big issue to Bangladesh, and when questioned at to whether he visited the site, comes up with something along the lines of 'The weather was bad, couldnt get their in the helicopter'.

Clearly he cares very little for the 15 to 20% of the country's rice production that unfolds in Sylhet District. He has a BCom from Carmichael College in Rangpur, and is a businessman. If he doesn't understand water, you'd think he'd get by on brutal economistic logic. What is that they say about mutual self interest and rationality?

During periods like this, one wishes that Abdur Razzaq hadnt been shunted out of the Awami League's trusted circle. He had been water minister in the previous AL regime and pushed through a lot of Participatory Guidlines, a National Water Management Plan (Hello Halcrow and have-a-go- NGOs ) and a little destruction of Bangladeshi scientific capacity (Thankyou World Bank water sector Improvement). I mean, at the very least he'd have come up with a more convincing excuse.

Improving the living environment of Bangladesh is a very tricky task. Firstly there is a large 'ordinary' variability of the monsoon, then there is the Bangladeshi human impact, and the upstream modulations to rivers from India et al. On top of this another mysterious layer of climate impacts. The matter of Tipaimukh concerns upstream modulation, as Bangladesh constitutes a small areal proportion of the river basins that drain through its delta This is a Big Matter.

If any people needed to listen, adapt, assert, create and know the environment... I think it should be us. Yet you can see what political weight we give to the water sector by the quality of the present minister. Our previous battle to stop the Farrakha Barrage failed, and we see the devastating effects that barrage has had on the south east area of bangladesh. Some say that Farrakha was lost because Engineer Abbas and co were caught in a 'gratitude bind' with India. You see they had just liberated us and its hard to negotiate in that kind of action scenario.

Its funny how some within Bangladesh ask the question of 'prove to us that Tipaimukh is harmful'. I point you too whats happening on the Tista right now, and to the post-Farrakha impact. The Bangladesh Environment Network have issued this, if you are interested.
To ponder about:
  • There are two impressive people in the Awami leage government, one with a calculating mind (finance minister, who is also from Sylhet) and another with courage (agriculture minister). Can they pull off some political moves?
  • Can we get through to our indian neighbours of good will and express why this is the wrong this for their government to do.
  • How can we improve the living environment of Bangladesh?
  • Do we appreciate the natural systems in place, is this an Anti-Indian Mask issue?
  • Can we ensure that the water resources sector gets a Minister capable of comprehending it and disciplining it?
I will write more about this matter as I learn more about its unfolding.

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