The government is looking at the prospect of building a barrage on the Brahmaputra River.
The probable location of the barrage might be Bahadurabad point on the river’s left bank or Fulchhari point on the right bank in Gaibandha district. It will ensure irrigation to 17 northern districts during the dry season.
The Water Resources Ministry has already called for ‘expression of interest’ letters from interested organisations to conduct a feasibility study on the planned infrastructure. The cost of the feasibility study has been estimated to be Tk100cr.
“The Brahmaputra barrage is necessary to supply water to the northwest as well as north central region of the country,” Md Aminul Haque, the project director, told the Dhaka Tribune.
“We are trying to have the barrage somewhere between Bangabandhu Bridge and Bahadurabad point of the river,” he added.
The Brahmaputra is a major trans-boundary river and contributes to about two-third of the total dry season water flow in Bangladesh.
The project will involve a detailed feasibility study, socio-economic, environment, and other hydraulic and hydro-morphological surveys and studies, said Aminul Haque.
Hydrologist Prof Ainun Nishat, however, observed that the authorities should first ensure the economic, social and environmental viability of the barrage.
An expert, on condition of anonymity, also noted that the locations proposed for the barrage and the proposed irrigation areas go against the general rules of gravitational flow.
Many districts where the irrigation water is to be diverted are at a higher plane than the sea-level in comparison to the proposed barrage points, the expert added.
The length of the trans-boundary Brahmaputra, from its source in southwestern Tibet to the mouth at the Bay of bengal is about 2,900 km. The length of the Brahmaputra inside Bangladesh is about 240km with a catchment area of about 39,100 square km, according to project documents.
A study of the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) said the average width of the river had increased from 8.5km in 1973 to 12.2km in 2009 due to the erosion.
The location the government is considering for setting up the infrastructure is around 10km in width.
The water of Brahmaputra, known as Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river in China, are shared by China, India, and Bangladesh. In the 1990s and 2000s, there had been repeated speculations that China was building a dam on the river to divert the waters to its northern territory.
Finally in 2010, China confirmed it was indeed building the Zangmu Dam on the Brahmaputra in Tibet.