Delhi invites Dhaka to inspect dam project to allay fears

April 14th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, April 14 (IANS) India has invited Bangladesh to send a delegation to visit the construction site of the proposed Tipaimukh Dam on the Barak river to allay Dhaka’s fears.
New Delhi made the gesture Monday during a “surprise” visit by Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, media reports said Tuesday.

River Barak, also called Meghna, is shared by the two South Asian neighbours. It is the third-biggest river system that is the principal source of water for eastern Bangladesh.

Menon extended the invitation when he called on Foreign Minister Dipu Moni Monday after she conveyed Bangladesh’s concern over India’s mega-project.

She said that the Tipaimukh Dam could deprive Bangladesh of its share of the international river water.

“We don’t think it (dam) should have any downstream effect,” Menon told media after nearly a two-hour meeting with Moni.

“We welcome a Bangladesh delegation to see what it is exactly, rather than have everybody commenting on something that they have not seen,” New Age newspaper quoted Menon as saying.

“It is best to sit together to explain to your people what we plan to do, and you tell us what your fear is and what your worry is. This is the normal way between friends.”

His Dhaka counterpart Touhid Hossein said: “New Delhi has no reservations if the proposed delegation consists of both political and technical people as they want to reassure us.”

Dhaka had earlier sought data and information from New Delhi about the Tipaimukh Dam in India’s north-east as many experts fear that it will have a very adverse environmental impact on Bangladesh, which shares the same river basin with India.

Both Menon and Hossein sought to dispel the unease expressed by former diplomats about the unusual manner of the visit and dismissed the speculations sparked off by it, media reports said.

“We meet regularly. We don’t have a set schedule. We meet whenever we feel like it. It is part of the ongoing dialogue on various issues between the two countries,” said Menon.

Security issues, including the threat of terrorism, were discussed.

Menon met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and top officials, including Army Chief Gen. Moin U. Ahmed.

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