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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh, India agree to construct Ganges barrage jointly

Update : 03 Jun 2015, 07:33 PM

Bangladesh has agreed to construct $4 billion mega Ganges Barrage with India.

“It is better to develop the priority project with Indian,” Water Resources Secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan told the Dhaka Tribune.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Dhaka and after the official talks between the two prime ministers, it is expected that they would give a directive in a joint statement, he said.

“Let the two heads of governments take the political decision and the rest will be taken care of,” he said.

Zafar Ahmed Khan said during the visit of Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali to India last September, Bangladesh asked India to join the project.

“We also handed over a study report on the Ganges Barrage project to Indian Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati in her meeting with the foreign minister,” he said.

India sought some clarification and Bangladesh has already responded to it, he added.

When asked about other interested parties like China and Japan, he said: “Many showed their interest but we think it is better to construct the project with India.”

During the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Japan in May last year, she asked her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to consider a range of specific projects including Ganges Barrage.

The government also signed a memorandum of understanding with a state-owned Chinese company, Changjiang Research Company Limited, in 2012 for probable financing of the project.

The water resources secretary said after getting the political directive, all other things including financing and engineering will be settled later.

“This is a very important project for Bangladesh as it will remove salinity and ensure sweet water in south-west part of the country,” he said.

Bangladesh felt to construct the barrage as India has been diverting 40,000 cusec of water through Farakka barrage since 1975.

Due to this diversion, water flow has reduced drastically inside Bangladesh and salinity increased in the south-west part of the country and threatened the biggest mangrove forest, Sundarbans.

The Ganges Barrage will create a reservoir with a length of 165 kilometres which can contain 2.9 billion cubic metre of water.

It will cover all the districts in the region where one-third of Bangladesh population live.

Bangladesh signed Ganges Water Sharing Treaty in 1996 for 30 years and it is important to construct the barrage before 2026 as it will help Bangladesh to secure a better deal for getting water after 2026.

The feasibility study and detailed design of the project was completed last year and if ensured financing, the project work can be started any time.

“We are ready and now what we need is financing,” said a senior government official.

The main objective to the barrage is to increase flow of water for the rivers which are dependent on Ganges.

According to the feasibility study, it will take seven years to build the barrage and within five years, the estimated expenditure will be recovered.

The length of the barrage will be 2.1 kilometres and the estimated cost will be Tk31,000 crore. 

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