Environmental flow must to keep rivers alive: water secy

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 00:44, Sep 11,2020


Conservation of environmental flow of trans-boundary rivers is essential to keep the rivers alive as well as to protect biodiversity in respective basin areas, water resources ministry senior secretary Kabir Bin Anwar said on Thursday.

The government has been working on shared uses of water of eight common rivers, including Teesta, under the framework agreement signed between Bangladesh and India in September 2011, he said while speaking at an online discussion on Meghna river basin area.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature organised the online event.

The government has been implementing various projects for irrigation, fisheries, biodiversity maintenance and river dredging.

IUCN water resources expert Vishwa Ranjan Sinha said that most of the hotspots of changes in the Meghna river basin are in Bangladesh compared to India due to the dissimilarity in pattern of use of land in two countries.

Sixtysix per cent of approximately 21,000 square kilometres Meghna basin area in Bangladesh is used as cropland, 15 per cent for settlements, only three per cent as forests and less than one per cent for aquaculture, he said.

On the other hand, 82 per cent of total 43,100 square kilometres Meghna basin area in India is forest, 10 per cent cropland, three per cent settlements and less than 0.02 per cent aquaculture, he added.

IUCN Bangladesh country representative Raquibul Amin and IUCN India programme coordinator Archana Chatterjee also spoke, among others, at the discussion. 

Bangladesh has been in protracted negotiations with India on sharing of water of common rivers, including Teesta in spite of repeated assurance from the highest political level of the successive Indian governments.  

Bangladesh and India share at least 54 trans-boundary rivers of which agreement has been reached only on sharing of water of the Ganges River, which is flowing in Bangladesh as the Padma, based on a sharing formula of the flows measured at Farakka during the lean season each year, from January 1 to May 31.

The 30-year treaty signed in 1996 is renewable by mutual consent.

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