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Indo-Bangla river-linking project quite a nightmare: Indian minister

Publication Date : 06-08-2012

 

India's river-linking project would be an economic, social and ecological disaster, said Jairam Ramesh, Indian minister for rural development, drinking water and sanitation.

Large-scale inter-linking of rivers, which is “the vision of some romantic engineers, is ecologically and even from economic point of view quite a nightmare,” Ramesh said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Star.

“But within basins you can transfer water, and it is happening. Rajasthan Canal has taken water of the tributaries. The Telegu-Ganga project has brought water down from one state to another,” said Ramesh, who in recent years has emerged as an influential minister of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The controversial project involves linking 30 major rivers and diverting the water of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. India first devised the mega plan in 1980 and envisages that the project will increase its irrigation coverage from 120 million to 160 million hectares and multiply crop production.

On Teesta water sharing agreement, he said, “I share the feeling that it should have been done, but unfortunately it could not be done because there were certain concerns on the West Bengal side from the chief minister. Those concerns are being addressed now.”

He said the government is addressing the concerns of its coalition partners. “We are taking time, but once it is done, it will be a durable and enduring settlement. I think a little bit of patience would not be out of place.”

Referring to controversial Tipaimukh project, he said a joint experts group of India and Bangladesh will meet in New Delhi on August 27 to discuss the concerns.

On the implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement, he said the Indian government is committed to implementing the deal, and to that end, a constitutional amendment bill will be placed in the upcoming parliament session beginning on August 8.

“We will bring the legislation… it requires amendment of Article 3 of our constitution. It will be placed in the parliament. There is no controversy and we are committed to it.”

Talking about Indo-Bangladesh cooperation, Ramesh said, “Prosperity of India depends on the prosperity of Bangladesh and the prosperity of Bangladesh depends on the prosperity of India. We are all in a co-prosperity region. It does not help India if Bangladesh does not grow.”

“We must be less argumentative, but more pragmatic. We must identify the areas where we can cooperate.”

 

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