International Farakka Committee
Speakers at a discussion on Tuesday called for coordinated efforts by enlisting the support of the people to save Bangladesh’s common rivers and the environment. They made the call while addressing a discussion organized by the International Farakka Committee (IFC) to mark the Farakka Long March Day 2023 at the National Press Club. Today (May 16) is the Farakka Long March Day. On this day in 1976, leader of the toiling masses Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani led the March from Rajshahi to Kansat near the Bangladesh-India border to protest unilateral withdrawal of Ganges water, ensure due share of water and protection of Bangladesh’s environment. The speakers said the long march paved the way for signing of the first Ganges Water Sharing Treaty in 1977. Subsequently a MoU and an agreement were signed but without the main safety valve - guarantee clause. Also Read: Ensure flow of common rivers, avert disaster: Farakka Committee With Mostafa Kamal Majumder, the coordinator of IFC, in the chair, the function was addressed, among others, by Mostafa Jamal Haider, chairman of Jatiya Party (Jamal), Saiful Huq, general secretary of Biplabi Workers’ Party, Shahidullah Kaysar, general secretary of Nagorik, Oikya, and Elahi Newaz Khan former president of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) The speakers said that Bangladesh now can do nothing if water does not flow from upstream. On the other hand, the country remains deprived of normal flooding due to construction of embankments on all 54 common rivers, but faces devastating floods at intervals, they observed. In the dry season, a process of desertification is observed in the northern and the south-western parts of Bangladesh. Also Read: Don’t sign off on Kushiara before Teesta: Farakka Committee The Farakka Long March of Moulana Bhashani thus remains relevant even to this day, the speakers said. They said that as the largest delta in the world, Bangladesh owes its origin to rivers which carried silt to form the land over the millennia. Disruption of flows of rivers has threatened the geographical integrity of this land of rivers. The environmental balance of the country is in jeopardy due to reduction of flows of rivers for five decades. Harmful salinity of seawater has reached from the shore to Aricha in Manikganj with devastating effects on the river ecosystem, they said. They said that as the natural floodplains do no longer have normal flooding during the wet season, indigenous fish, aquatic organisms, weeds, water lilies and other aquatic plants have disappeared from many districts. Again, being deprived of the dry season flows, many small rivers in the lower catchments of the Ganges and the Teesta have died. In such a situation the life and livelihood of people have come under severe stress. The speakers said Bangladesh would not have experienced such environmental disasters if International law relating to rivers and water was upheld. Common rivers should continue to flow from their origins to their outfalls in the sea, otherwise, they will die, they said. Water experts of India and the rest of the world are aware of the river-environmental disasters in Bangladesh and are vocal against them. The speakers said that raising a voice against this cannot be termed as enmity. Works are ongoing worldwide on proper sharing of rivers and cooperation between upper-riparian and lower-riparian peoples. They said that without this, rivers will not remain alive. Bangladesh should raise a strong voice to assert this and take steps to ensure natural flows of rivers and protect the riverine environment The speakers eulogized the foresight of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and urged all concerned to take inspiration from the lesson he taught at the age of 96 in the movement to protect the environmental balance of Bangladesh. The meeting sympathized with IFC New York chairman, Atiqur Rahman Salu who had fallen ill and prayed for his early recovery. Earlier, Dr. SI Khan, former adviser to the UN on water and environment and Sr. Vice-President, IFC Bangladesh, made a keynote speech. Samyabadi Dal leader Kazi Mostafa Kamal, US-based senior journalist and poet Salem Suleri and IFC organising secretary Ataur Rahman Ata were among those who spoke at the function.
The International Farakka Committee (IFC) has urged the government and all political parties to give greater importance to river and water issues in their political manifestos because Bangladesh owes its origin to rivers and is dependent on those for survival. Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General of IFC, New York, made this call at an opinion exchange meeting at the Sagor-Runi Hall of the Dhaka Reporters Unity on Saturday. The government and all concerned should also prepare to negotiate a new treaty on the Ganges with guarantee and arbitration clauses as the present 30-year Ganges Treaty will end in 2026. This is an appropriate time to talk on water issues as some parties are in a movement for democracy while others have started campaigning for general elections, he said. Sayed Tipu Sultan said, we want to have friendly and peaceful relations with our neighbours, but the irony is that all 54 common rivers that flow into Bangladesh, and account for 90 percent of its fresh surface water, have been embanked, depriving the country of their normal flows. The 30-year Ganges Treaty has failed to bring the agreed quantum of water. The entire dry season flow of the Teesta is being diverted for two decades. A process of desertification has thus started in the Southwestern and the Northern parts of Bangladesh, he added. Read more: Don’t sign off on Kushiara before Teesta: Farakka Committee Water salinity has intruded from the seashore to 200 miles deep inland affecting agriculture, fishery, industry and fresh-water vegetation. The existence of the Sundarbans, UNESCO designated heritage site for mankind, has been threatened. Because of the dams and barrages on the common rivers, Bangladesh is on the one hand deprived of normal rainy season inundation of its floodplains with devastation effects on its riverine ecosystem, and on the other facing flood disasters at intervals that serve severe blows to agriculture, economy and life and livelihood of the people. Last year the People of the Sylhet region were battered by the worst flood in 20 years while the Teesta basin experienced four waves of flood and riverbank erosion. The Indo-Bangla Joint Rivers Commission met after nine years last year to sign a MoU on water sharing of the Kushiara, an essentially Bangladeshi river. Earlier withdrawal of water from Bangladesh’s Feni River upstream in India was formalised, but the Teesta treaty remained elusive. The largest delta in the world, Bangladesh faces threat to its existence as the rivers that created it over the millennia and sustain it have been blocked. Political leaders should create national unity on this question of life and death of the people. Read more: Ensure flow of common rivers, avert disaster: Farakka Committee Sayed Tipu Sultan reiterated the IFC demand for implementation of the Teesta Master Plan to save two crore people living in the Bangladesh part of its basin from recurring floods and riverbank erosion. Among others, Mostafa Kamal Majumder, coordinator, Ataur Rahman Ata, joint secretary of IFC also spoke at the opinion exchange meeting.
The International Farakka Committee (IFC) has urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to pursue Teesta water sharing and renewal of Ganges treaty earnestly with guarantees and arbitration clauses during her upcoming talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In a statement issued on Saturday, IFC, which campaigns for Bangladesh’s fair share of water from the trans-boundary rivers with India, said that the Kushiara River’s water sharing is not a priority for Bangladesh, and its inclusion in JRC talks indicates the eagerness of the Indian side to divert attention from the Teesta issue. Before signing the proposed MOU on the Kushiara, Bangladesh should ask for the long-awaited treaty on the Teesta to be signed, they said. Also read: Surma, Kushiara rivers to be dredged to restore navigability: FM IFC leaders said since abandoning the Tipaimukh Dam project at the instance of India's central Forest Advisory Committee for over half a decade, India has refrained from any interventions on the Barak river system from where two tributaries, the Surma and the Kushiara, flow into the Meghna in Bangladesh. Out of 54 common rivers that flow into Bangladesh from India, 52 have already been embanked. Intervention on the Kushiara would adversely affect Bangladesh's third largest river, the Meghna, and the haors of the greater Sylhet area, the IFC said as a note of caution. For Bangladesh, the most burning issue is Teesta water which has been entirely diverted from the Gazal Doba barrage in West Bengal for about two decades, rendering the Bangladesh part of the river completely dry in violation of international law and practice, with adverse environmental consequences for 3 crore Bangladeshis living in its basin. The 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, which will end in 2026, on the other hand has not ensured the availability of adequate water to Bangladesh. The treaty needs to be updated with guarantees and arbitration clauses that India has in its water treaties with Nepal and Pakistan, the IFC leaders said. They said Bangladesh should pursue integrated basin-wide management of common rivers to keep the natural systems alive instead of artificially dividing those at man-made political borders. When dams and embankments on rivers are being demolished in the rest of the world, these cannot be built afresh on our common rivers. Also read: Implement Teesta management and restoration master plan: IFC The signatories to the statement are: Atiqur Rahman Salu, Chairman and Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General, IFC New York, Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr. SI Khan, Senior Vice President, Syed Erfanul Bari, IFC Bangladesh; and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Convener IFC.
The International Farakka Committee (IFC) has urged the government and all others concerned to initiate the process of ensuring basin-wide integrated management of all rivers including the Ganges and the Teesta.Welcoming Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent statement for basinwide management of rivers, the leaders of the IFC said that only such management will keep rivers alive for all people on their banks to benefit from their services.IFC issued a joint statement on Sunday marking the 46th anniversary of the Farakka Long March.On May 16, 1976, leader of toiling masses Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani led the historic long march towards the Farakka Barrage from the Rajshahi Madrasah ground and crossed more than 100 kilometres on foot. Also read: Momen hopeful of early signing of Teesta; India looks forward to Hasina’s visitThe march was the first successful popular protest against unilateral diversion of the Ganges and for maintaining its natural flow.The IFC leaders said that the long march proved relevant as the Indian state of Bihar and many Indian water experts have called for demolition of the Farakka Barrage.Indian water experts have raised voices against structures on rivers including Cauvery, Sabarmati and Ganges that have led to drying up of these natural systems.Rivers can remain alive only if they to flow from their origins to the sea, the IFC leaders said. Also read: Scope still there for cooperation on Teesta water allocation: Prof ImtiazThe signatories to the statement were: IFC New York Chairman, Atiqur Rahman Salu, Secretary General, Sayed Tipu Sultan; IFC Bangladesh President, Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, Senior Vice President, Dr. SI Khan, General Secretary, Syed Irfanul Bari, and IFC Coordinator, Mostafa Kamal Majumder.
Leaders of the International Farakka Committee (IFC) have extended their support to the government’s initiative to implement the Teesta Master Plan with Chinese support, saying it is a proper and timely move. Expressing their grave concerns over the recent flooding, the IFC said an untimely flood disaster along the Teesta in Bangladesh has caused extensive damages to the property of lakhs of people along its two banks. Thousands of dwelling houses and homesteads have been washed away with riverbank erosion. Standing crops on lakhs of acres of land have been damaged while roads and embankments have been eroded snapping road-links among the districts of the greater Rangpur region. “In this context, we consider the initiative taken by the government to implement a Teesta master plan with the help of China is a proper and timely one,” the statement said. “Although this project is no substitute for keeping the river alive by ensuring its natural flow, it’s expected to help reduce the damages caused by floods and help improve the lot of the people of the region through coordinated development activities. The river will get a new life when time will come to restore its natural flow,” it said. Read: Implement the Teesta Project with cooperation of China: Intl Farakka Committee The committee said the disaster has been caused by the discharge of floodwater through the Gajoldoba Barrage floodgates following excessive rainfall along the upper catchment of the Teesta in Sikkim. Embankments at about 17 places in the upper Teesta were damaged by the floods. But the Bangladesh authorities were not alerted before releasing the water. Only two weeks before, the Teesta in Bangladesh was a dry barren land as all water was diverted from Gajoldoba Barrage in West Bengal, added the statement. The Teesta River in Bangladesh is a dead river during the dry season. Despite repeated assurances, no treaty has been signed for the management of the river’s water. People now can walk on foot from one bank of the river to the other, according to the statement. Only seepage from the Gajal Doba barrage flows into Bangladesh. During the monsoon, the river causes disastrous floods, the statement pointed out. According to one account, five waves of flood came down the Teesta in 2021 but a disastrous flood as late as October was never experienced before. The statement said last week’s flood disaster has caused extensive losses to at least 80,000 families, according to a preliminary estimate. The damaged property include ripe paddy, onion, garlic, maize, animal fodder, homesteads, clothes, preserved winter garment and household crockery and utensils. Read: Flood: Farakka Committee blasts India’s upstream management of common rivers Bangladesh must do something to pull out three crore people of the Teesta basin from this helpless situation, protect their lives and property and maintain its environmental balance. Bangladesh cannot sit idle in the face of people’s miseries, the statement added. The committee leaders suggest the Teesta Master Plan can be expanded to cover other rivers – Atrai, Korotoa and Punarbhaba, including Chalan Beel which lie in the old Teesta Basin – to ensure overall socio-economic development of the Northwestern region of Bangladesh. This will help recharge groundwater and keep all the tube-wells functional throughout the year. The signatories to the statement were – Atiqur Rahman Salu, chairman, Sayed Tipu Sultan, secretary general, IFC, New York; Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr. SI Khan, Senior Vice-President, Syed Irfanul Bari, general secretary of IFC Bangladesh and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, coordinator of IFC.
Recalling the historic Farakka Long March Day, the International Farakka Committee (IFC) on Sunday urged Dhaka and Delhi to sign a treaty to keep 54 common rivers flowing through the two countries from their sources to the sea. Diversion of water by constructing dams for short-term benefits is killing the natural water sources, it said in a statement. May 16 marks the Farakka Long March Day. On this day in 1976, Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani led the march from Rajshahi towards Farakka Barrage on the Gages as unilateral diversion of water rendered lower-riparian Bangladesh part of the river dry. The barrage was commissioned for a period of 41 days from April 21 to May 31 in 1975. But the diversion of water was continued unilaterally, causing huge damages to the ecology in Bangladesh. One year after the long march, the 1977 Ganges Water Sharing Treaty was signed with an 80 percent guarantee clause for five years. Also read: Farakka Long-March Day observed The second treaty on Ganges water sharing was signed in 1996 for a period of 30 years but Bangladesh is not getting water as per its terms. Unilateral water diversion by constructing dams and barrages from other common rivers, including Teesta, has increased over the years. Thus the Farakka Long March of Moulana Bhashani remains relevant even today, the IFC said. IFC organised a long march to the Brahmaputra in Chilmari in 2005 and held a big rally of nearly one million people and drew attention to the plight of the Teesta River that was rendered dry. In the following year on the 30th anniversary of the historic Farakka Long March, IFC organised a grand rally at Gobindadashi adjacent to the shoal of the Jamuna River in Bhuapur under Tangail. Bangladesh owes her origins to rivers which thus form a question of her life and death, the statement noted. The signatories to the statement are – Atiqur Rahman Salu, Chairman and Sayed Tipu Sultan, Secretary General, IFC New York; Prof. Jasim Uddin Ahmad, President, Dr. SI Khan, Senior Vice-Presient and Syed Irfanul Bari, General Secretary, IFC Bangladesh; and Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Coordinator of IFC.
International Farakka Committee (IFC) in a statement has expressed the hope that during this visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the two countries—Bangladesh and India—will, in the light of mutual friendship, take some effective steps for basin-wide management of common rivers by keeping them alive from their sources to the sea.
International Farakka Committee (IFC), an environmental and water rights watch group, has said that agreements on basinwide water management of the natural common rivers is now a demand of the time.