UNILATERAL WITHDRAWAL OF WATER BY INDIA
MIGHTY TEESTA TURNS INTO A DESERT
Kawsar Azam, Thereport24.com, from Teesta Barrage
It is like a desert all around and there is nothing but sand and sand dunes as far as the bare eyes could see. Though is the in reality the river bed of mighty Teesta which was the most torrential river of the country a few years back.
Due to unilateral withdrawal of waters by the coriperian India, the flow of the mighty river Teests has been reduced to a canal having just knee-deep flow of waters entering into Bangladesh at the Teesta Barrage point, while the rest part of the river bed had already dried up making sand dunes all the way which might make people oblivious of the fact that it was a might river even just few years back. The river had dried up so badly that the Teesta Barrage pillars are even standing tall in the sand dunes.
The Mighty Teesta river had lost its lustre and current after India constructed another barrage at Gazaldoba making the whole northern region a barren desert following the fate of mighty Padma. As a result, most of the tributaries and offshoot branches of many small rivers dried up too in Rangpur, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha and Kurigram districts starting the desertification process in those northern districts of Bangladesh.
The abrupt drying up and almost death of mighty Teesta had affected the life and livelihood of the northern region so badly that people are now oblivious of the fact it was such a mighty river just a few years back and now threatening their life and livelihood following unilateral withdrawal of waters by India violating all the international rules and laws over use of international rivers by coroperian states. The environment and ecology of the northern region of Bangladesh have already started feeling the abrupt change amid the desertification process affecting agricultural production in the worst manner, said environmentalists and ecology experts.
Mostafizur Rahman, a farmer of the Teesta Irrigation Project, said, “We have never seen such worst ever water crisis in life. Last year too there was water crisis in Teesta, but it was not that acute. The quantity of water which was entered into the Teesta Irrigation Project from Teesta Barrage has already got dried up. In the area ahead in Nilphamari, you will find no water in all the canals for irrigation. If such a situation prevails then it would be impossible for us to cultivate different crops in future which would jeopardize our life and livelihood.”
A spokesman of Teesta barrage authorities said, “To ensure the flow of mighty Teesta river, Bangladesh government planned the head regulator at the Teesta Barrage and closed dam under the barrage project in 1977. The foundation project of the Teests Barrage project was laid in December 12, 1979 at Hatibandha of Lalmonirhat district and the project work was completed in 1982. The project area is spanned around Teesta river in north, Atrai in western end, Shantahar-Bogra in southern end and Bogra-Kaunia in eastern end. The upazilas covered by the barrage are Nilphamari Sadar, Dimla, Joldhaka, Kishoreganj, Syedpur, Rangpur Sadar, Taraganj, Gongachara, badorganj, Parbortipur, Chirirbandor and Khansama.
Water Development Board and other sources said, current requirement of the water flow at Teesta right now is around 8,000 cusec, but in reality there is only 200 cusec water flow at Teesta though the flow was more than double the present figure at that time of last year. Just 63 kilometre upstream of Teesta, Indian government had constructed a barrage at Gajoldoba of Jolpaiguri district and has been unilaterally withdrawing water from the international river violating all norms and laws and also putting Bangladesh at the risk of desertification as an impact of hindering flow of an international river depriving the country its due share of waters. The unilateral withdrawal of waters has already made the future of the Teesta Barrage endangered and it is also making Bangladesh’s whole northern districts a desert as a direct consequence. The fate of millions of Bangladeshi people has been held hostage to the whim of Gajoldoba Barrage authorities of India.
India is right now releasing only a scanty portion of Teesta water after diverting the main flow of the common river through its Gajoldoba Barrage putting at stake the fate and future of the Bangladesh’s Teesta Barrage in the summer. On the other hand it releases the extra flow of water during the rainy season making severe floods in those days though Bangladesh was not in need of waters at that time. And the whimsical release of huge water in rainy season by Gajoldoba Barrage authorities often creates flash floods and damages standing crops and households in those days.
The West Bengal government in 1975 constructed the Gajoldoba Barrage at the upstream and just 100km away from Teesta Barrage. Using the barrage India has been diverting more than 80 percent water flow of common Teesta river through Teests-Mohanonda canal to Darjeeling, Paschim Dinajpur, Maldoh, Jalpaiguri, Konchbihardistrict, Purnia of Bihar and also providing irrigation of 90,000 hectares of Assam areas. India is also producing 22.5 megawatt hydroelectricity and containing floods through using the barrage. Earlier after grabbing the 80 percent waters, the rest 20 percent India would release for the use of downstream Bangladesh which would turn into a scanty flow after going through the 63km areas for the downstream people. But this year the Indian authorities have just stop the whole floe of Teesta water diverting all the waters for its use making the Teesta Barrage area dried up totally.
As a result in the downstream, the water flow in the Brahmaputra-Jamuna has reduced to such an extent that hundreds of riverghats and river ports have to shift many times and floating Oil Depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation at Chilmari had to shift many occasions. The scanty or no flow from the other side of the border had also created serious navigation, irrigation and other problems hindering usual live and livelihood in Bangladesh. Several thousands of Mehegani, rain tree, Shishu and other trees are dying on both sides of the 25 kilometre barrage areas from Teesta railway bridge to Rajarhaat, said local people.
Bangladesh Water Development sources said, the mighty Teesta river originates from Chitamuh Lake at the height of 7,200 metre in the Himalayas in Sikkim state of India. The river’s length is around 315 kilometres in both India and Bangladesh. The river entered into Bangladesh at Khoribari border areas under Chatnai-Dimla upazila of Nilphamari district. After flowing into Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Rangpur, Kurigramn and Gaibandha districts it falls into Brahmaputra river.
Under the Teesta-Mohananda Multipurpose barrage, India has been unilaterally withdrawing the waters of other common rivers like Mohananda, Nagor, Teesta, Buri Teesta, Chorakata-Jamuneshwari and Koratoa rivers affecting the total ecology of Bangladesh and put the Teesta Barrage at total risk. It also threatened the lives of millions of people and their livelihood too as the agriculture and riverine communications have been crippled. Even it has impacted the underground water table too dipping it further.
Information on Teesta water flow banned?
The Water Development Board authorities in Dalia did not provide any information on the Teesta water flow despite several visits by this correspondent in its office. Executive engineer of the board Mahbub said, “We do not keep any record on the water flow of Teesta. It is the responsibility of Joint River Commission.
When contacted with Joint River Commission office in Rangpur, Engineer Aminur Rashid too expressed his inability to provide any information of the water flow of Teesta river. He just said, “The water flow is very poor and I cannot provide any figure how much cusec of water is flowing into Bangladesh as the ministry has imposed restrictions on release of any data on the water flow. You better contact with Dhaka.”
The engineer then said, “The water flow data is available at the Water Development Board.” When contacted with the Joint River Commission office again on Thursday its officials did not pick up the phone.
APRIL 24, 2015