Zia seeks Hasina’s help for team’s visit to Tipaimukh dam site

June 29th, 2009 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, June 29 (IANS) Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia Monday sought the help of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for sending a separate team to visit the Tipaimukh dam project site located in India’s northeast.
She accepted a suggestion made last week by Hasina that the opposition was free to send its own team, Star Online reported.

Hasina’s government has offered to compare the report of the team sent by the opposition party and that of a parliamentary delegation that it plans to send.

India may now have to host the visits of two separate teams to the site of the proposed dam on the Barak river in Manipur state.

Zia’s move, made through a formal letter sent to Hasina, adds a new dimension to the raging controversy.

Opposition parties and sections of environmentalists, NGOs and experts on river valley projects say that the lower riparian Bangladesh stands to lose in terms of its share of water if India builds the dam to produce power.

Dhaka has for over a month been planning to send a parliamentary team, accompanied by experts, to the dam site. However, the issue has been seized by former prime minister Zia.

“We (BNP), for the interest of the nation, agreed with your proposal to send a separate delegation, including water experts, to visit the Tipaimukh dam site,” Zia wrote to Hasina.

“We, as an opposition party, can’t send a delegation to another country. So, we are seeking your help for sending the team and obtaining related information and documents from India over Tipaimukh dam,” the letter added.

The letter also recommended a six-member team for this purpose.

The Zia team includes two former BNP ministers M.K. Anwar and Maj (retd) Hafizuddin Ahmed, water expert and former water resources secretary Mohammad Ashraf-ud-Doula, former Dhaka University vice-chancellor Moniruzzaman Miah, former director of water development board Sharif Rafiqul Islam and water expert M. Abdur Rauf.

Zia had earlier this month addressed a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to drop the project.

Part of the Brahmaputra river system, Barak flows from India into Bangladesh where it divides into two and eventually flows into the Meghna.

Bangladesh and India have in the past sparred over a dam over the Ganga at Farakka. The dispute was settled in 1997 with the Ganga Water Treaty signed during Hasina’s earlier tenure as the prime minister.

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