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Where Is Bangladesh Own Study On Tipaimukh Dam? July 17, 2009

Posted by bdoza in BANGLADESH, CLIMATE, Flood.
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I could recollect that Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh few weeks back  told that Bangladesh requested India to supply all technical  documents in relation to Tipaimukh Dam for  Bangladesh Government to come to a decision.

Government also was taking initiative  to send a Parliamentary Committee comprising the members of the treasury as well as the opposition, though the response from the opposition so far is not much encouraging for the government. Few experts are also supposed to be included in the committee.

In a recent roundtable discussion, the speakers and experts unrged the government to collect the datas on the Dam before sending the team to Tipaimukh.

Very recently, the Indian Government has published  the report on the ‘Tipaimukh Dam Hydroelectric Project’. This is the first time that some information on the dam has been disclosed by the assigned impementation organisation  ‘North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited’ in their website. But the information is limited to the effect of the dam on the Indian Terrritoy only. The report consists of  ‘Environmental Impact Assesment’, ‘Environmental Management Plan’  and ‘Dam Break Analysis and Disster Management Plan’.(Prothom Alo)

The Dam was first thought of in 1960s. Then through different phases the plan was developed and steps taken for implementation from the Indian side. For different administrative and political reasons physical start of the construction delayed. But where is the study on the dam of Bangadesh Government itself ?

In an article of Dr. Debabrata Roy Laifungbam/Dr.Soibam Ibotombi it is said that Bangladesh has made some studies since 1992-94.

However, the downstream effects of a Tipaimukh Dam-break have been studied by the Government of Bangladesh since 1992-94. In its Flood Action Plan 6 (FAP 6) as part of the North Eastern Regional Water Management Plan of Bangladesh, the scenario of a dam failure at Tipaimukh Dam project was investigated by international hydraulic and environmental experts in the context of a comprehensive flood action plan for Sylhet District

But we, the common people are not aware of such studies and nobody from the government of the past and present in the recent time has mentioned of such studies of our own.

Why are we depending absolutely on the analysis of our neighbour who naturaly will consider their interest more preferably and we cannot expect a neutral assesment on the impact on our soil from them?

By this time we should have our own study and if it is not done at all, we should start one immediately and with the inclusion of the international water and  environment experts and publish it soon.

An ordinary citizen

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1. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma - July 23, 2009

INDIA’S HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT AT TIPAIMUKH AND
THE HOT DEBATE IN BANGLADESH

ABSTRACT:
The government of India has taken up a project for the construction of a dam for the purpose of power generation at a place known as Tipaimukh on Barak river in Assam. After having preliminary information from that government, the government of Bangladesh under Begum Khaleda Zia got prepared a report regarding the affects of this dam on Bangladesh by a number of experts working as consultants. The report they gave was found mostly favorable for Bangladesh. This year, after the Indian government declared their program to initiate the project, the opposition party led by Begum Khaleda Zia nearly declared war saying that it would ruin the country. She has been successful in accumulating a number of like-minded experts and political leaders to speak in her favor. On the other hand, the government of Bangladesh seems to be in favor of its construction. In the meantime various experts and non-experts have expressed their ideas, explanations and predictions about the affects of the project. These have profusely confused the people, specially because while explaining matters some experts use technical terms in which the common people are not conversant. In such a situation this article would endeavor to give a transparent picture regarding the affects of the dam, reason of ‘war cry’ by the opposition, deficiencies of the present government to take right decision etc. avoiding unknown technical terms.

INTRODUCTION :
Before emptying it in the Bay of Bengal, river Karnafully was snaking her way through a number of hillocks in Chittagong hill tracts. In the years of heavy rain the river used to create flood and wash away everything including habitations on the river bank. Experts discovered that if a dam could be constructed on this river thus creating a large reservoir, it would be possible to (i) permanently solve the problem of seasonal flooding due to this river, (ii) generate large quantity of hydro-electricity, the cheapest type of energy, (iii) culture fish in the reservoir etc. They also discovered that its construction would create serious problems for the tribal people living in the to-be submerged areas. It was easily possible to rehabilitate these people. But the government of Pakistan did not take the issue seriously. Even though Islam declares equal rights for all, Pakistan, the Muslim country practiced the principle of having concern only for the Muslims and hating others. Naturally the tribal people found hard days. The country however, got huge power at minimal cost. Still today Bangladesh is enjoying that benefit.

India discovered a similar site a Tipaimukh, where from they could generate hydro-electricity by constructing a dam. The government of India prepared a proposal for it at Tipaimukh, a place 100 miles upstream from Sylhet of Bangladesh and handed over the project proposal to the BNP-led government of Bangladesh in 1979. After this the project could not proceed as usual course because of India’s internal problems. The issue was raised again with the BNP-ruled government under Khaleda Zia in 1993. The Bangladesh government employed SNC-Lavalin International, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants to prepare a report. The report was given with the following observations :
Due to the construction of dam at Tipaimukh :
(i) “occurrence of flood will decrease in the Barak, Surma and Kushiara rivers”,
(ii) “the amount of floodwater will decrease by 20 percent” and
(iii) “water level in the Surma and Kushiara will decrease by 1.60 metres during floods”.
India raised the issue of Tipaimukh dam with BNP government in the 35th and 36th meetings of Joint River Commission (JRC) in 2003 and 2005 respectively, where the then government did not oppose the idea.
In 2009 when Bangladesh Awami League is in power, however, the same person (Khaleda Zia) raised severe objection against the construction of the dam, alleging it that would ruin Bangladesh. Begum Khaleda procured a number of experts and leaders to talk for her. At this time, various spokesmen of the government also explained the government’s views. Various claims, predictions, explanations and comments given by the opposition and the government have profusely confused the common people. In such a context the objective of this article is to find out the affects of this dam on the neighbouring country, Bangladesh, causes that encouraged Begum Khaleda to take the abnormal and new stunt and related issues.
POINTS OF DEBATE :
From the data’s so far received, (i) the dimensions of the dam will be : Height = 166 m, (or 180 m above sea level, 178 m maximum reservoir level and 136 m minimum draw down level), Length = 390 m, Water carrying capacity = 16 m cu m. It would submerge 266 families in 8 villages. The project would generate Electricity = 1500 MW. Estimated cost : App. Rs 1,078 crore.

The speciality of location of the project is, it is an earth-quake prone zone near the meeting point of two tectonic plates with possibility of earth-quake in the range 7.0 in Richter scale. That indicates that India would have to design it strong enough to withstand this hazard. Needless to mention that the failure of the dam would bring disaster first in the 100 mile stretched land inside India and then, vast area of Bangladesh.

Now we shall mention and clarify some of the points raised and confusingly explained by various leaders under Begum Khaleda’s influence.

DAM AND RIVER WATER FLOW : Some people opine that the dam would reduce the flow of water in Barak river and its descending branches in Bangladesh. The fact is, after a dam for hydroelectricity project is commissioned, the authority would have to release all excess water from the dam for the safety of the dam and smooth running of the generators. So, it does not reduce water flow. The dam however, can give additional advantage of flood control by holding excess water in the rainy season and increase water flow in the winter by slowly releasing that water.

DAM AND SILTATION : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create siltation in the rivers of Bangladesh. Such statements may be given by people lacking in intelligence. In a hydro-electric project only silt-free water is fed into the turbines below, and the over-flowing water (spillway) on top cannot contain silt.

DAM AND EARTHQUAKE : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create earth quake due to weight of water or for drying of rivers. All these are wrong statement. Those who have little knowledge of geology and earth science know how huge and mighty the earth’s tectonic plates are, and in comparison how tiny or insignificant the reservoir or weight of the water in it are.

DAM AND SALINITY : It is unfortunate that some of the leaders opine that the dam would result in increase of salinity in the region near the mouth of the river. Their ideas are erroneous. The salinity at the river mouth among many other factors depends upon the velocity of water emerging out through the river. In the rainy season it is pushed away due to rainy water from the origin and catchment area. The possibility of the same to move up may take place during the winter season when the flow is feeble. The release of water from the reservoir can improve the situation.

DAM AND DESTABILIZING THE NATURE : Some people always think that any new project in the nature is harmful because it destabilizes the balance of nature. It is well known that whenever the original setup of the nature is interfered, there may some problems. However, intelligent and sincere men have always been able to solve those. Only the fools may shout for keeping everything in nature “unchanged” for the sake of “stability”. Had the intelligent men followed the principle of the fools, then the world would have still remained in the same primitive state. In case Kaptai dam was not constructed at the cost of many things including miseries for the tribal people, neither Bangladesh would enjoy the huge benefit of power nor the region would become free from the propensity of flood.

PROBABLE PROBLEMS OF BANGLADESH :
In case the design and commissioning of the project does not take place by keeping in view the necessities of Bangladesh, then Bangladesh would definitely suffer from some evil consequences. It should however, be mentioned that before Bangladesh starts suffering from those hazards, the 100-mile long Indian region on both sides of the river would start tasting those. The most severe problem may occur during the period of first-time filling of the reservoir. The process may take several years even with the entire annual supply of water. In such a situation the dam authority should continue the filling-process at a slow rate, such that the rivers in the down stream do not get dry.

In the above situation Bangladesh should be kept closely associated with every aspects of the project. The river Barak flows in two countries such that both the countries have rights on its contributions like water, transport facilities, hydroelectricity etc. In case Bangladesh could contribute proportionate share of land and finance for the hydro-electric project, the country could claim the share of electricity. We know, the country is not in a position to do that.

After the project is complete we shall find two new phenomenons. These are :
(01) At present the country suffers from the varying flow of water in the river due to nature’s act on which no one has any control. After the construction of the dam, the control of water would depend up on human control, which will be in the hands of the operators in India. When the control is with the nature, Bangladesh cannot censure anyone for hazards. But after it would come to human hand, they can always hold the operating country responsible for genuine or fictitious reasons.
(02) The huge quantity of sand, stone, fish etc. flowing from the Indian rivers is enjoyed by Bangladesh absolutely free. The construction of the dam would stop that possibility.

In the above situation, there remain ethical reasons for Bangladesh to ask for a share in the generated electricity and India should consider the same, if not for logical reason, but as a gesture of goodwill.

KHALEDA’S ABOUT-TURN :
Those who do not have clear idea about Begum Khaleda and her party might find her recent attitude quite mysterious. The gentleman-like question is, why does the person who knew everything so well since 1993, who employed experts and got their positive comments, who were kept informed in 2003 and 2005, suddenly turns furious in 2009. In order to understand this mystery one needs to have in-depth knowledge of Begum Khaleda and her party.

Begum Khaleda Zia, the ex-prime minister and now leader of the opposition is not highly educated, a harsh truth that compels her take advice from others in complicated matters. She however, fails to get advice of honest and superior quality persons, because the nature and principle of her party are not conducive for them. She does not have proven records of honesty, religious un-biasness or patriotism. Also she is renowned for short memory, anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani mentality. In addition, right now she is having extreme problems in organizing her party, rehabilitating her two sons, handling legal cases against the party members etc. Naturally she desperately looks for a platform for bargaining with the government.

Brief descriptions of Begum Khaleda’s problems are mentioned here under :
(i) Honesty : During the period of the caretaker government she whitened huge money. The amount is such as can never be earned honestly by the prime minister of this country. It has been reported that she sent over 300 boxes of valuable items to Saudi Arabia. No body still what materials or documents those boxes contained. She allowed her two sons to earn unlawful money. Part of this money has been detected in foreign banks.
(ii) Religious biasness : She is well remembered for her statement that “Hindu religious sounds will be heard from the mosques if Awami League wins”. During her regime the minorities were treated as no class citizens. Her government and party’s atrocities on the minorities after her win in 2001 nearly shattered the world.
(iii) Patriotism The people of Bangladesh are aware that before the 2001 election one ex-president of an influential country offered the Awami League chief to extend assistance in winning election in lieu of “gas deal”. The chief did not agree. Few months ago prime minister Sheikh Hasina disclosed this incident. She also disclosed that Begum Khaleda agreed to that proposal and won the election.
(iv) Short memory : During her past regime, on one occasion she visited India and discussion on sharing of water at Farakka was one of the issues. After return she replied that did not do that because she “forgot”.
(v) Anti-Indian mentality : Begum Khaleda is well known for her extreme anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani mentality. During her regime high officials allowed 10 truck-loads of arms and ammunitions to use Bangladesh territory to reach ULFA, one of the worst terrorist organizations of India. Also, during her tenure many top-grade culprits working against the interest of India and patronized by Pakistan got safe asylum in Bangladesh. These are being revealed now and there are ample reasons to believe that her government was associated with such incidents.
(vi) Party problem : At present Begum Khaleda is entangled in serious problem with her party. The party could not do the most essential “Council” in 16 years and she has recently requested for extension of time for the same.

CONCLUSION :
In case Tipaimukh dam is constructed as per proper design and with due consideration of the interests and requirements of Bangladesh, then Bangladesh can be immensely benefitted from it. While the common people may think in this way, BNP, Begum Khaleda Zia’s opposition party however, may think differently. They are aware that good achievement or success of the present government would push away the possibility of their win the future elections. So, it is natural that they would endeavour their best such that the present government cannot do anything praiseworthy. In such a situation only the future can say, whether this project would at all be materialized.

In the above issue, however, Bangladesh Awami League has committed the blunder at the very beginning by appointing one Hindu minister in the concerned ministry. They should have known that all the water related issues would have to be settled with India and a Hindu minister can never be the right choice for this job. Begum Khaleda, however, took full advantage of their mistake. The government should immediately appoint a Muslim minister in this position.

As mentioned earlier, Prime minister Sheikh Hasina disclosed that she was proposed to sell gas to outsiders in lieu of assistance in election. She added that she declined, while the other party agreed and got elected. This time, however, before any foreigner could approach Begum Khaleda Zia her she sent a letter to the prime minister of India explaining her position in this issue. Does she expect the “same old proposal” from that corner? By all means, what is taking place in Bangladesh with the issue of Tipaimukh project of India is purely political. From what we have explained in extremely simple language, even a child with good knowledge of science would understand that, if properly designed and commissioned with due consideration of the interests of Bangladesh, what this dam can do for this country is complete control over flood due to some rivers and to increase water level during the winter months, what the experts have reported long ago.

Bijon B. Sarma, Professor (on LPR), Khulna University, Khulna. Bangladesh.

2. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma - July 23, 2009

The above one is my comment. Bijon B. Sarma

3. Sabrina - August 1, 2009

I notice people like Bijon Sarma are desperately trying to give this a political dimension as a way of nullifying the debate over the negative impacts of Tipaimukh. Is the BNP trying to get political mileage over this? Of course. But why would they remain silent over an issue of such importance? It is silly to fault an opposition party for opposition. But is the Tipaimukh opposition being led by BNP? NO! It is fueled by genuine concern among environmentalists and the common people about the bad effects of Tipaimukh Dam. The harmful effects of large dams are well established.

4. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma - August 2, 2009

Sabrina should know the “meaninglessnwess” of the comments of some environmentalists, geologists etc. She may like to see my writings on two such papers by expatriates, one from USA and one from Australia. So, any intelligent man should first apply his/her intelligence before paying heed to anyone claiming to be so called experts.

Prof. Bijon B. Sarma.

5. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma - August 2, 2009

[First posted on 27th July,2009 in this blog]

When Bangladesh is peacefully continuing with Kaptai dam, with the positive contributionbs of cheap electricity, fish and control over flood in and around Karnaphully river, some people are shouting about imaginary ill-affects of Tipai mukh dam of India. Some of them have no idea about the difference between a dam and a barrage. Some forget that the place is located ovr 150 kilometers away from Bangladesh border, such that this 150 kilometer stretched land of India would first suffer from any probable ill-effects of this dam, before Bangladesh gets any taste of it. Some believes that dam create earthquake, even though the fact is, the dams are to be built with adequate strength such that those can withstand the probable earthquake.

In the above situation, I find 4 types of men who shouts against this dam :
(01) Jamat BNP group, who finds any success of Awami League of Bangladesh as their peril and who hate India, saying it is a Hindu country, even though the Muslim population there exceeds that of Bangladesh.
(02) New Experts group, who collect information to suite their notion from authentic and non-authentic sources, without having the bvasic understanding of the subject,
(03) Web beggar group, who initiate extreme programs like signature collection and beg 1plus Dollar from each signatory and
(04) The fools, who lack the knowledge to understand the complexities of the subject.

We do not know if the dam will or will not be constructed. But by this time a number of ordinary persons have earned the name of experts (by copying information from websites) and some website owners have earned big money by begging.

Prof. Bijon B. Sarma.

[The editor like the discussions on the subject to be confined under the post, hence the shifting]

6. Prof. Bijon B. Sarma - August 2, 2009

COMMENTS ON DR. NARGIS BANU’S PAPER AND
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF TIPAIMUKH DAM.

PREAMBLE :
When we write in websites normally we do not write with utmost seriousness, and we know the reason. Even though lapses/problems in languages are acceptable, in the articles on serious science-based subjects, ideas and thoughts by all means should be specific and expression of intelligence. I did not have any intention to review Environmental Geologist (Kansas, USA) Mr. Meer Husain’s article “CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM – A THREAT TO THE NATIONAL INTEREST OF BANGLADESH”. I did it because he requested me to go through that. Accordingly I did and published my submission. However, the time I went through his paper I was really shocked to see that a person with such expertise uses “a high-school student’s essay” collected from source like ‘wikianswer.com’ in his paper. Then I felt tempted to review Dr Nargis Banu’s article “PROTECT PEOPLE AND NATURE FROM TIPAIMUKH DAM”, posted by the Bangladesh Expatriate Council. Dr. Hasina Banu is an environmental scientist working with Sydney Water Corporation, Australia. It was mentioned that the paper was presented at a seminar at the Australian National University on July 3, 2009. By disclosing this information the writer has given us a scope to know what type of papers are presented in such seminars. This author has experiences of such presentations at home and abroad, including Australia.

COMMENTS OF PAPER BY DR. NARGIS BANU
01. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : At the beginning (probably Introduction, where Abstract is missing) Dr. Nargis Banu narrated the background story of Tipaimukh project. Here she mentioned two notable issues: (Quoted).
(a) WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM, INDIA WOULD BE DIVERTING THE BARAK’S WATER FLOW FROM ITS NORTH TO ITS SOUTH AND EAST. IT WILL HAVE ADVERSE IMPACTS ON NATURE AND LIVELIHOOD IN THE NORTH-EASTERN DISTRICTS IN BANGLADESH.
(b) NOW INDIA HAS STARTED ANOTHER INTERVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL RIVER BARAK AT TIPAIMUKH AND WILL CONSTRUCT A DAM AT FULERTAL (100 KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM FROM TIPAIMUKH) BY 2012.

MY SUBMISSION : The truth is, India initiated construction of a barrage at Fulertal (adjacent to Bangladesh border) long ago and the same has now been abandoned. Now India has proposed for the construction of a dam for the production of hydroelectricity at Tipaimukh, a place located at a distance of over 150 kilometres. Dam and Barrage are two different things. Where as withdrawal of water is the essential objective of barrage, a dam may or may not have such provision. India has already assured that there will be no withdrawal of water. In such a situation a comment like “WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF TIPAIMUKH DAM, INDIA WOULD BE DIVERTING THE BARAK’S WATER FLOW FROM ITS NORTH TO ITS SOUTH AND EAST” is misleading. And if this statement is wrong, the comment based on it and expressed in the following line i.e. (quoted) “IT WILL HAVE ADVERSE IMPACTS ON NATURE AND LIVELIHOOD IN THE NORTH-EASTERN DISTRICTS IN BANGLADESH” is also wrong.

Those who are aware of the topography, soil condition and climate of Monipur region might know that this region does not really need such diversion of water for irrigation. Let me briefly explain the reason.
There may be two prominent reasons of depositing water in the mountains or hills.
(a) In the high rocky mountains water is deposited in cavities and on the picks as ice during the winter. In the summer season those melt and flow down.
(b) The earth-made hills and mounds get wet during rains and release that water as spring or fall, resulting in small canals (local name “Chhara”). Depending of the size of the mounds, this water may flow throughout the year.
While the main source of water in Barak river is the first type, that locally used in Monipur region belongs to the second type.

02. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : The author has given some information to prove that there is probability of severe earthquakes in this region.
MY SUBMISSION : It is an established fact that
(a) Monipur-Assam-Sylhet zone is highly earthquake prone,
(b) Large deposit of water at heights intensifies vibration during earth-quake and
(c) Breaking of dam during such hazard would cause havoc.
It is obvious that when such a site is found economically feasible and ecologically superior (in comparison with other means of generation of electricity) for a hydro-electric project, the engineers would go for the construction of a safe dam, even if it is costly. In case of breakage of this dam the most affected country will be India due to the following two major reasons :
(a) Failure of an extremely expensive project and
(b) Catastrophic flooding in the 150 kilometre-stretched land within India.

03. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : The author mentioned (quoted) “THE EXPERT APPRAISAL COMMITTEE OF INDIA REVEALED THAT THE DESIGN OF THE DAM CONTAINS MANY ERRORS, AND OMISSIONS, AND FALLS SHORT OF COMPLIANCE OF STANDARDS SET BY THE SCIENTIFIC AND ACADEMIC COMMUNITY IN INDIA AND THE WORLD”.

MY SUBMISSION : The fact is, the design of Tipaimukh dam has not been finalized. No one should wonder about such comments by various corners (like, expert appraisal committee) during the preliminary stage of its preparation.

04. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “INDIA CONDUCTED DETAILED STUDIES, COMPLETED THE FINAL DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENT IMPACT ASSESSMENT WITHOUT CONSULTATION WITH BANGLADESH AS A DOWNSTREAM STAKEHOLDER”.

MY SUBMISSION : The statement like “COMPLETED THE FINAL DESIGN” is definitely untrue.

05. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “INDIAN GOVERNMENT HAS NOT CLEARLY STATED THE AMOUNTS OF WATER THAT WILL BE STOPPED OR DIVERTED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM”.

MY SUBMISSION : The author’s statement is not only untrue, but also misleading because the Indian government has stated that it would not divert any water.

06. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “THE EROSION JUST DOWNSTREAM OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WOULD BE EXCESSIVELY HIGH AND THIS EROSION WOULD CONTINUE AS LONG AS HUNDRED KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM OR MORE IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA SYSTEM”.

MY SUBMISSION : This statement is wrong. As a matter of fact, after a dam is constructed, the erosion in the down stream is reduced. Let me explain the reason in brief. Soil erosion among other factors depends upon on the velocity of water. The velocity depends among others on two principal factors : (a) Quantity of water and (b) Inclination (also known as gradient) of flow-path. After the construction of the dam, the flow of water will be less in the lower region during monsoon months (because the dam would reserve additional water) and the same would increase a little during lean period. In fact the flow would never attain the highest level that it had before the construction of the dam.

As we mentioned, the flow also depends upon inclination of flow-path. A dam constructed on a river considerably reduces this inclination. The dam in fact utilizes the potential energy (in this case energy stored in water due to gravitational force) of the water in the reservoir. After the water starts its fresh journey from a considerably lower level, it loses degree of inclination. Naturally it loses velocity and eroding capability.

07. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “THE … DEPOSITION …. WILL RAISE THE OVERALL BED LEVEL OF THE RIVERS”. About the affects of silting she commented (01) “… AN EXTREME CASE IT WOULD BLOCK THE MOUTH OF CERTAIN TRIBUTARIES, and (02) “WILL INDUCE THE AVERAGE MONSOON FLOOD TO BECOME MODERATE TO SEVERE FLOOD IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA FLOODPLAIN”.

MY SUBMISSION : All these are against the natural rule of science. The fact is, the water carried by the river after the dam would create less siltation because (i) It would erode less due to the reduced velocity of water and (ii) The dam would arrest the entire sedimentation particles coming from above.

08. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ABOUT 71 PER CENT OF THE UPPER SURMA-KUSHIARA BASIN AREA WOULD NO LONGER BE FLOODED. … THE KUSHIARA-BARDAL HAOR …. WOULD BECOME COMPLETELY DRY. THE KAWARDIGHI HAOR …. LOSE AROUND 2,979 HA (26 PER CENT).”.

MY SUBMISSION : If it really happens like it, then the people of this area would think them fortunate to become free from flood hazard and to get new land.

09. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ … KUSHIARA WOULD CUT ITS CONNECTION WITH ITS RIGHT BANK FLOODPLAIN …… AND THIS PART WILL BECOME ‘RESERVOIR RIVER’ RATHER THAN A MOST VALUABLE ‘FLOODPLAIN RIVER” (prophesy).

MY SUBMISSION : If this prophesy is based on the author’s hypothesis of “increased siltation”, then I have explained why it would not take place. However, those who have knowledge of soil structure, inconsistency of river flow etc. of Bangladesh can guess that the new situation might help in straightening the snaking and winding courses of some rivers, thus generating a number of ox-bow lakes. This should be taken as a positive contribution because the more land the rivers would release the better it would be for the country.

10. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE DEPENDENT ON … BARAK FOR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES. THE DAM WOULD CAUSE THE SURMA AND KUSHIARA TO RUN DRY FROM NOVEMBER TO MAY”.

MY SUBMISSION : This is a wrong statement. The fact is, release of submerged land due to lower level of water in the rainy season and straightening of rivers may release more land, such that more people may be engaged in agriculture. Before making such a statement the author should have studied the basic principle on which a dam for hydraulic project works. Let me explain briefly.
In hydro-electric project the available height of water in the reservoir above the exit-hole is of extreme importance. For the running of the generators water has to be constantly released from the reservoir. The quantity of power generated is proportional to the height of water in the reservoir. With normal discharge let the height of water during the rainy season is (all arbitrary numbers) say, 100 Feet and that in the lean period (i.e. winter) say, 50 Feet. For optimum production and economic feasibility the designers would have to arrange generators to run by a height in between these two figures (not necessarily the average). Let us say this number is 60 Feet. In this case the generators would not be able to run at full swing unless during winter nonths unless there is arrangement for storing additional water in the reservoir. This indicates, what the Tipai-authority would do for the smooth-running of their plant throughout the year is, storing extra water during the peak period and releasing the same during lean period. This is exactly what the experts employed by Khaleda Zia’s BNP government opined, and to which any scientist or expert would have to agree.

N.B. STRAIGHTENING OF RIVER : It should be noted here that human interference is essential for initial straightening of river. In the country with soft soil, intermittent flow acts against straightening. Once the rivers are cut straight and constant flow is ensured, river may continue to flow in straight line. Such a program can release huge land on both sides.

11. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “SHORTAGE OF WATER IN THESE FEW MONTHS WOULD DECREASE THE BOOST OF GROUNDWATER. OVER THE YEARS THIS WOULD LOWER THE GROUNDWATER LEVEL, WHICH IN TURN WOULD AFFECT ALL DUGOUTS AND SHALLOW TUBE-WELLS. AGRICULTURE DEPENDENT ON BOTH SURFACE AS WELL AS GROUNDWATER WOULD ALSO BE AFFECTED. ARABLE LAND WILL DECREASE AND PRODUCTION OF CROPS WILL FALL, LEADING TO AN INCREASE IN POVERTY”.

MY SUBMISSION : After we know the report of the expert committee formed by BNP government during FAP (Flood Action Plan) project, we have to ignore her prophesies.

12. DR. NARGIS BANU IN HER PARAGRAPH ON “BIODIVERSITY AND ECOLOGY” SAYS : (quoted) “CONSTRUCTION OF A HIGH DAM WILL OBSTRUCT THE MIGRATORY PATH OF FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC FAUNA… (AND SILT, “MICRONUTRIENTS”)”.

MY SUBMISSION : This comment on FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC FAUNA is correct, the claim of preventing of “MICRONUTRIENTS” however, is not. What is true is, as soon as the flowing mountain-river water would come to a stand-still at the reservoir, there will be considerable changes in the micro-nutrients, fish and other aquatic animals. The dam would not arrest the micronutrients, even though it would not be possible for larger fish to escape. However, nowadays it is made possible by using fish-pass.

13. DR. NARGIS BANU SAYS : (quoted) “ABOVE IMPACTS WOULD DESTROY THE NATURAL INTEGRITY OF THE ECOSYSTEM, LOSING RIVERINE HABITAT AND SPECIES, AND A LACK OF ENRICHMENT OF LAND WITH THE NUTRIENT-FULL SILT. THIS WOULD LEAD TO THE ULTIMATE DECLINE IN THE NATURAL PRODUCTIVITY OF THE TWO MOST ABUNDANT RESOURCES OF BANGLADESH – LAND AND WATER”.

MY SUBMISSION : From what I have explained above, the above statement is wrong. However, even though we do not know what type of changes would take place in the micro-nutrients, from the experience of Kaptai dam we may guess, it would not be anything hazardous.

14. DR. NARGIS BANU IN HER PARAGRAPH “CLIMATE CHANGE” DAYS (quoted) : “THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WILL PERMANENTLY SUBMERGE AN AREA OF 275.50 SQUARE KILOMETRES IN INDIA”.

MY SUBMISSION : This one is India’s problem and they would consider it in comparison with their gain from the project.

15. OTHERS : The author’s claim on “DAM BREAK AND HUMAN CATASTROPHES” has been answered earlier. In her paragraph on “WATER QUALITY” she said : (quoted) “THE EROSION AND SEDIMENTATION DOWNSTREAM OF THE TIPAIMUKH DAM WOULD BE EXCESSIVELY HIGH AND WOULD CONTINUE AS LONG AS OVER 600 KILOMETRES DOWNSTREAM IN BANGLADESH. THIS EXCESSIVE EROSION DOWNSTREAM OF THE DAM WOULD INCREASE THE OVERALL SILTATION AND WATER TURBIDITY IN THE SURMA-KUSHIARA SYSTEM. THESE WILL ADVERSELY AFFECT THE WATER QUALITY OF THE ENTIRE SURMA-KUSHIARA-MEGHNA SYSTEM IN BANGLADESH”. I have already mentioned why the author’s conceptions of increased siltation and erosion are wrong.

She also said, “THE DAM WILL HAVE WARMING IMPACT DUE TO METHANE DEGASSING FROM THE RESERVOIR”. Those who are aware of the quantity of degassing from (i) Huge marshy lands throughout the world, (ii) Water-dipped rice fields and domestic cattle in Asia and Africa, (iii) Rotten leaves and algae deposited in the oceans would just laugh to hear about the “additional methane gas generated in 275 Square Kilometre area”. I failed to understand the comment “CARBON EMISSIONS OF LARGE DAM CONSTRUCTION”.

The author has mentioned some information in the paragraph “VIOLATION OF LAWS AND AGREEMENT” about which I have nothing to say.

ADVANTAGES & DISADVANTAGES OF DAM FOR BANGLADESH :
DISADVANTAGES :
(i) Due to the construction of the dam Bangladesh would lose silt, sand and fish coming through Barak river. By special arrangement and design, however, the movement of fish can be retained.

ADVANTAGES : (i) Due to its construction it will be possible to control flood due to Barak river and its tributaries in Sylhet region.
(ii) Considerable portion of land can be saved from inundation during the rainy season.
(iii) During winter irrigation may be easier due to higher level of water.
(iv) There will be less silting in the tributaries of Barak river.
(iv) There will be less erosion in these rivers.

CONCLUSION : I am least worried about the construction of Tipaimukh dam. It is a project by the Indian government, who would get cheap electricity from it. Due to its construction Bangladesh would lose silt, sand and fish coming through Barak river. With due cooperation of the authorities however, Bangladesh (i) can achieve control over flood by ensuring less flow of water during monsoon, (ii) may have easy irrigation in the winter due to higher level of water etc. This plain truth has been expressed by the expert committee employed by the BNP government long ago. When motivated politicians (like those from the opposition) shout against this project with all sorts of unscientific, imaginary, biased and non-intelligent remarks, I understand the reason. And I endeavour to expose the secret reason, where possible. But when men of science express non-intelligent remarks, I fail to understand the reason and feel the need for protest.

I however, did not protest against Mr. Meer Hosain’s writings. When he expressed his response to one of my writing I just replied. In his response he requested me to acquire knowledge on certain issues from one of his writing. I went through that and was shocked to know that he used the “answers” from computer-crazy school boys. Had I known it earlier, I definitely would not have wasted my time. In course of reading that I came across the article of Dr Nargis A Banu, an environmental scientist working with Sydney Water Corporation, Australia. I became specially interested because it was Posted by Bangladesh expatriate council and earlier presented in a seminar at the Australian National University.

I got interested in it due to my experiences of similar presentations abroad including Australia. But after reading it, I came confused to differentiate between a scientific paper and an essay written by the column writer. I know how a column writer writes his essay. He picks up a running or important issue, decides in which way he wants to motivate his readers inclusive of common people, bureaucrats and political leaders and then starts writing. In doing so he picks up those data, information and comments that would help him to reach the targeted destination and at the same time avoids all those might go against. He cares least for honesty and most for fulfilling his objective. Such an endeavour is completely quite different from a scientific paper to be presented in international seminars/conferences. After such a paper is presented it comes in the discussion of the community of wise-people. And when published in the website (as happened this time due to the courtesy of the Bangladesh expatriate council) it comes within the domain of discussion of the common people. Instantly the people know what type of papers are presented in such seminars.

As I mentioned, scientific papers are different from the column writer’s essays. Such papers are revelations of facts. Here the scientist does not keep any preconceived idea like “I will prove it, or disprove that”. The approach of the scientist will be, “I believe this is the truth. So I shall try to prove it with the knowledge and revelations so far made by science. In case I do not get defence from these sources, it will be my hypothesis”.

A scientists’ deliberations or course of thought will be different even from that of a university teacher. The teacher of a university is supposed to teach generalized principles, applicable in general throughout the world. In doing so, most of the time he needs to simplify things. The teacher does not have the time or scope to show how those principles apply in various conditions. The duty of the researcher/scientist is to make threadbare analysis of the situation in which those principles would apply and observe how the results differ from the preconceived ones and why. Only such findings are expected to be presented in scientific papers for international seminars. From Dr Nargis A Banu’s paper it seemed to me as if she first made up her mind to show that “Tipaimukh dam would cause serious damage for Bangladesh” (alike what the column writers do). And then she started presenting information and analysis in favour of her conviction, many of which were self contradictory. I find weakness in her analysis also. For example, when someone visits the site of a dam, he usually finds water falling down from a great height, resulting in turbulence in muddy water below and then, water to rush away. That might initiate the general concept of “erosion and sedimentation” in the river. I have endeavoured to show in details, (i) why the river starting after a dam loses flow of water, (ii) why the water loses velocity and (iii) why this water carries less silt etc.

Once again I beg to state that I have little interest regarding the construction of Tipaimukh. I know many important and essential projects are not taken up because “those do not fulfil the personal interests of the dishonest group among the concerned authorities”. On the other hand, a project that in no way is justified in the overall condition of the country is taken, because it satisfies the above condition. “Underground rail line in Dhaka city” is one such project. Probably this project is going to be materialized because it is capable of ensuring financial benefit for some.

For the above reason, when I write about Tipaimukh, I only endeavour to show the science-based truth to the best of my knowledge and experience. I believe, the scientists and experts should continue in their predestined track, which is so pure and true, and which is so different from those of the politicians and column writers. Seeing “column writers’ essays” as scientific papers is really painful.
Lastly I express my sorrow to those who may be hurt due to my writing.
Prof. (on LPR) Bijon B. Sarma, Khulna University. Bangladesh.

7. bdoza - August 2, 2009

Dev Mukharjee, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh from 1995 to 2000 in an interview published in Prtohom Alo said, “For common rivers there should be joint management”

8. Sabrina - August 3, 2009

Mr. Sarma, I found your first posts giving the Tipaimukh dam debate a political dimension to be indicative of your political bias. I find that your subsequent posts are not only arrogant (dismissive of other experts, and you mention “beggars”?) but also running counter to established scientific thought. The harmful effects of large hydel dams are now well established. Even the World Commission on Dams which had representatives of Dam building companies, acknowledged this in its final report in 2000. Would you dismiss all these international experts?

For an objective analysis based on the Indian EIA report on Tipaimukh dam, and a thorough study of the downstream ecology, I would suggest these Daily Star pieces by Syed Zain Al-Mahmood.

The Dam Debate http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2009/07/02/cover.htm

The Dam Documents
http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2009/07/04/followup.htm

Good articles that nicely sum up the scientific data.

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