They apprehend negative impact on livelihoods in case of over-mining of Feni River water
People living in the catchment of Feni River in Bangladesh have expressed the hope that India will stipulate its water withdrawal from the transboundary river, in accordance to the volume agreed upon by the two countries on Saturday.
They said for many years the volume of water withdrawal by India was far more than the agreed volume of 1.82 cubic feet per second (cusec) as there were at least 34 spots on the Indian side of the river where Feni water had been pumped out.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Ramgar Upazila Parishad Chairman Bishwa Pradip Karbari demanded surveillance from every stakeholder involved, so that India cannot withdraw water from Feni River beyond the volume agreed in the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's recent visit to New Delhi, both countries signed the MoU allowing India to officially withdraw 1.82 cusec of water from the river to supply drinking water to people living in Tripura’s Sabroom town.
People living in the lower riparian country complained that when there was no agreed upon withdrawal formula, India had already been pumping out a huge volume of water from 34 spots of Feni River since 2010.
In the past, Bangladesh also raised the issue of over-mining Feni River’s water by India in different meetings of Indo-Bangla Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), but to no avail — much to the dismay of people living in Ramgar, Matiranga and other command areas of the river where water flow got dried up to a large extent.
Local representatives and civil society members demanded withdrawal of what they claim illegally installed pumps on Feni River, and enhanced monitoring so that water is not withdrawn in excess of the agreed volume.
According to the Water Resources Ministry, 1,878 cusec water flows through the Feni River as annual average, which stands at average 794 cusec during the dry season. If India withdraws 1.82 cusec water as per agreement, it will not have much ramification on regular flow of the river.
But locals fear if India continues to withdraw additional water, it will result into erosion and siltation in Bangladesh part of the river and will have negative impact on Muhuri Irrigation Project thereby, affecting crop productions.
During a visit to the Mohamuni border at Ramgar, this correspondent saw pump house being installed within 150 feet of the no man’s land and water withdrawal was ongoing from Feni River.