Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Govt forming ‘high-powered’ Ganges barrage committee as PM rejects Pangsha point design


  • Published: 2017-04-12 19:41:07 BdST

bdnews24

The government will form a ‘high-powered’ committee to review and identify the location where a dam can be built after the prime minister rejected as 'suicidal' the design for the Ganges barrage at Pangsha point in Rajbari.

Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud revealed the plan while speaking to the media after a meeting with a six-member Chinese delegation headed by the country’s Water Resources Minister Chen Lei on Wednesday.

“There is no disagreement over the barrage on the Ganges. The prime minister made it clear yesterday (Tuesday),” Anisul said.

“There is no question over the Ganges project. The barrage will be built…but the question is on the design - where it will be built and how,” he added.   

The minister said the government decided to form a ‘high-powered technical’ committee to review the other options for the ‘best’ use of waters Bangladesh gets from India.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has rejected the design of the Ganges barrage at Rajbarhi’s Pangsha. The water resources ministry made the design after a survey.

“It will be suicidal for us, like that Teesta Barrage,” she told a press conference on Tuesday.

The first survey on a Ganges barrage was conducted in 1962-63 to reserve the water of the Ganges basin for use in agriculture by constructing the dam in the Padma river.

The issue came up in discussions again after Bangladesh and India signed a deal to share Ganges water during Hasina’s tenure as prime minister in 1996.

The work to assess the feasibility of the project started in 2005 and ended in 2013. Bangladesh handed the summary of the findings to India the next year. But Hasina on Tuesday said she “did not like the design”.

She added: “I’ve talked to the chief minister of West Bengal (Mamata Banerjee). If we can make a reservoir, both countries can use it during dry seasons.”

In reply to a query over the ‘errors’ in the design, Minister Anisul said, “There are many talks on the Farakka dam today. We are seeking the alternatives so that these things do not happen to us.”

He said his ministry made the design with the help of foreign consultants.

“Dams, projects have been taken one after another. The concepts are changing. So we think we should be open so that we don’t face any problems in the future. That’s why we are checking the other options,” he added.

Asked whether the Pangsha project was closed, he said, “The proposed project has definitely been closed for now. You can call it abandoned.”