Slow treaty execution worsen salinity intrusion: Inu

Dhaka – Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu on Friday said the execution of 1996 Ganges water sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India is lagging behind and leading to rapid saline water intrusion in the Southwestern river channels of the downstream country.“Judging from all three aspects of water sharing incorporated in the Ganges treaty – the flow at the entry point, inside the border, and the augmentation flow, it has been executed at a slow pace for various reasons,” he said at a discussion on transboundary water resources at the Dhaka University Senate Hall.
Inu said that besides the sharing of water of this particular river (Ganges), the execution of the treaty also involved looking into the equitable and reasonable water sharing of other transboundary rivers that has not been addressed properly over the last decade.
“How long the game of friends playing the foes can go on… the cost of non-cooperation is so high.”
He also pointed out that due to the absence of proper management of the water resources of the transboundary basins, 22 out of 85 beats of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh are affected by high salinity intrusion.
The country is also facing many other problems in this relation, including extinction of species of birds and fishes and drying out of rivers, Inu, also the president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal said, adding that 30 out of 700 rivers of the country has already dried out.
He said: “Let us come out of bilateral treaties, but execute whatever treaty we’ve already made… we must take initiatives from now on for multilateral treaties for transboundary rivers.”
Noting that the countries of the South Asian region have not been able to ignite themselves due to the notions of ‘insecurity and lack of confidence’, the Information Minister said: “Let us go for a regional security framework to remove the lack of trust.”
“And water is the entry point to develop the trust,” he added.
Terming the bilateral treaties on transboundary rivers between India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and India and Nepal as ‘little’ windows for improving the relations, Inu called for opening up the ‘front gates’ of multilateral cooperation.
He said: “We need a multilateral basin-wise management of transboundary rivers.”
The left-leaning minister also called on politicians in Bangladesh not to do politics using the water issue. “We shouldn’t do politics on water. Although there has been politics using water, particularly in Bangladesh, it’s not fair,” he said.
The plenary session, titled `State of Trans-boundary Water Resources Management and Future Direction’, was held under the two-day International Conference on `Water Resources of South Asia: Conflict to Cooperation’, jointly organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN).
Presided over by BEN global coordinator Nazrul Islam, the session was also addressed by Gopal S Chinton of Tribhuban University, Nepal; Kelly Alley of Auburn University, USA; and Dough Hill of Otago University, New Zealand.
(SOurce: United News of Bangladesh)

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