Hasina, Modi urged: Sign water treaties to keep rivers alive

Dhaka, March 21: Environment and water rights watch group, International Farakka Committee (IFC) in a statement on Sunday has expressed the hope that during the upcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the two sides will, in the light of mutual friendship, take some effective steps for basinwide management of common rivers by keeping them alive from their sources to the sea. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Bangladesh on 26 March to join the celebration of the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence. Secretary-level water talks held in New Delhi between the two countries on March 16 in the context of meeting of the prime ministers of the two friendly countries made no visible progress. The brotherly people of Bangladesh hope that this visit will mark progress in the area of joint management of water resources, a question of their life and death.
Bangladesh owes its origin to rivers. 54 out of 57 rivers that flow into the world’s largest delta Bangladesh from outside come through India. Due to the withdrawal of water from upstream in the absence of sustainable water management more than 30 rivers in Bangladesh have become dead. The Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, based on the faulty idea of water sharing at the border, is not serving its purpose in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh part of the Teesta dries up every lean season due to unsustainable diversion of its entire flow from the Gazaldoba Barrage. But in the wet season the people of Bangladesh suffer from devastating floods from the Ganges and the Teesta.
IFC believes, if the rivers die at their downstream in Bangladesh, the upstreams of these natural water flows are also bound to die overtime. Rivers flowing through their natural floodplains remain alive and healthy because the groundwater of floodplains keeps them alive during the dry season. Other than the floodplains soils only suck water. This explains why more than 5000 dams and barrages have been decommissioned in different countries of the world to restore the natural flows of rivers.
A recent survey conducted under the leadership of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in different countries showed that integrated management of rivers from their sources to the sea (S2S) can ensure sustainable development and pollution control all along their banks.
The signatories to the statement are: Atiqur Rahman Salu, Chairman and Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General, IFC New York; Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr. SI Khan, Senior Vice President and Syed Irfanul Bari, General Secretary, IFC Bangladesh; and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Coordinator of IFC.