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d_tipaimukh1 SHILLONG, July 31: Bangladesh today made it clear that it has no problem with the proposed construction of the 1500 mega watt Tipaimukh Hydroelectric project in Manipur if India does without harming its environment and jeopardizing rights of its citizens.

“Bangladesh has no problem with the construction of the project if the Government of India can do without harming and keep in mind grievances we have already expressed,” Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board chairman Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam said speaking to Imphal Free Press here.

The Bangladesh official (Islam) is in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong attending the “Empowering North East Summit” jointly organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Meghalayagovernment at Hotel Pinewood. “There is cynicism in our people that construction of Tipaimukh dam would pose negative impact on our environment and jeopardize our rights. But if the Indian government can do by keeping all these problems in mind and without harming, there will be no problem,” Islam said.

The stand taken by Bangladesh to accept the project with condition as expressed by Islam, assumed significance days after the assurance made by Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Vincent H Pala who endorsed the stand of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tipaimukh that “India would take Dhaka into confidence before going ahead with the project, so as not to hamper the friendly Indo-Bangla ties.”

However, though India's government- owned NHPC Limited had already floated a joint venture company with the government of Manipur and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Limited on April 28 last for implementation of the 1500 MW Multi-Purpose Project, Pala also maintained that views of the local indigenous people will be also taken into confidence before going ahead with the project. The project would be located 500 meters downstream of the confluence of the Tuivai and Barak Rivers in Manipur's Churachandpur district just 100 km off from Amalshid border of Jakigang of Sylhet district of Bangladesh and is likely to affect two major rivers of Bangladesh, namely the Surma and the Kushiara and another 60000 Manipuri people who depend on the river for livelihood and other activities.

Bangladesh government had sent a team of experts and diplomats to assess the impact of the proposed dam on the livelihood of its citizen living downstream. Bangladeshi experts estimated that the massive dam will disrupt the seasonal rhythm of the river and have an adverse effect on downstream agriculture and fisheries. According to the Bangladeshi experts and environmentalists, the dam would have adverse impacts on the ecology, environment and economy of the northeastern region of Bangladesh. The proposed dam falls at the confluence of Indo-Burma, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese biodiversity hotspot zone.

These areas are characterized by the presence of a large number of plant and animal species, like tiger, hillock gibbon, hornbill, turtle, dolphin etc. many of which are not seen or seldom witnessed in other parts of the world.

The Action Committee Against Tipaimukh Project (ACTIP) consisting of local people of the affected area of the project have strongly opposed the construction of the dam. ACTIP has also termed the signing of the MoU as “undemocratic” accusing the Manipur government of going ahead with the project without taking the local people’s consent. Apart from ACTIP several organisations like Citizens Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD), Committee on Land and Natural Resources (COLNAR), Sinlung Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) and others are protesting against the project on the ground that the Tipaimukh dam would have adverse impact on the environment and socio-economic lives of the local people living near the project area in the states of Manipur, Assam and Mizoram.

The Imphal Free Press

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