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DHAKA, May 19 (bdnews24.com): The Indian high commissioner has admitted for the first time that a dam will be built on the proposed Tipaimukh hydropower project over the cross-boundary river Barak but said it will not harm Bangladesh.

The Tipaimukh hydropower project was not like the Farakka irrigation project. A little amount of water will not be trapped to produce hydroelectricity and the water will be released soon, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty said on Tuesday.

Bangladesh should not be wary of the project, he told reporters after meeting with shipping minister Afsarul Amin at the Secretariat.

He said bilateral discussions have long been on-going on the project. Indian government has invited Bangladesh to see the dam site and its design, Chakravarty said.

Environmentalists fear the dam will dry up the Meghna river in the greater Sylhet region.

Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon had invited Bangladesh to send the delegations at a recent visit.

Asked if India would share the power produced from the proposed project, the high commissioner said it was a possibility.

But, he added, India had no power-sharing mechanism with Bangladesh. It has power grids with Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, the envoy added.

Amin, the shipping minister said, "If there is an attempt to stop the waters, then we would look into the matter. But, Bangladesh will not be harmed with the project."

Water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen, when contacted, said, "We know that India will build a hydropower plant on Tipaimukh. Bangladesh knows nothing about any dam there."

If any dam is built there, Bangladesh will be harmed and, in that case, will protest, Sen said.

He said the foreign ministry will decide about sending a delegation to see the project.

India in 2003 initiated the move to construct the dam over the cross-boundary river, which enters into Bangladesh through Sylhet region before meeting the Meghna.

It started the construction later last year without consulting Bangladesh.

Bangladesh gets 7 to 8 percent of its total water from the Barak in India's northeastern states. Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies, fed by the Barak, in the Sylhet region for fishing and agricultural activities.

Environmentalists in Bangladesh have held many talks on the adverse impact of the proposed dam. They say the dam would dry up the river and the water bodies in the downstream, leaving millions jobless and upsetting the ecological balance.

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