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Workshop on Water sharing in South Asia PRIO,Oslo 14-5 June 2011 Indo-Bangladesh water sharing : dispelling fears and building trust Sreeradha Datta IDSA,

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Presentation on theme: "Workshop on Water sharing in South Asia PRIO,Oslo 14-5 June 2011 Indo-Bangladesh water sharing : dispelling fears and building trust Sreeradha Datta IDSA,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Workshop on Water sharing in South Asia PRIO,Oslo 14-5 June 2011 Indo-Bangladesh water sharing : dispelling fears and building trust Sreeradha Datta IDSA, New Delhi India

2 Water evokes emotions The water sharing issue is not merely technical and bureaucratic but also largely political. …. Without a doubt discourses on water is driven by ideologies and myths which over time are perceived as truths This more relevant in the context of India and Bangladesh Bangladesh polity characterised by sharp polarisation India is largely associated with one set of ideologue, one set of political ethos that Awami League represents Water rights vis-à-vis India is one of the few issues that evoke national consensus within country. The Ganges water sharing treaty 1997 continues to be the bedrock of water sharing modality between the two sides Thus quite simply..if it were just a matter of sharing the water it would have been solved long ago..

3 Presentations broad outlines This paper will briefly outlines Ganges water treaty and its operation record of the past decade and half. Examines the River Teesta negotiations. The bilateral problems over water sharing The move towards moving from bilateral to multilateral dialogue and viewing the common river system through basin management

4 Ganges water treaty The basic principles – 1. to arrive at a permanent sharing arrangement on the basis of existing dry season flow in the Ganges without linking it to the augmentation question. This marked a departure from previous Indian position. – 2 to revive joint river water commission to work out the modalities for water sharing. – 3 they also agreed to jointly monitor the flow at Ganges at selected points. A joint committee formed with water experts from both sides to work towards finalisation of an agreement on water sharing was formed. This was a departure from the past – technical experts were brought under the supervision of political leadership thus the discussion were moderated in such a manner so as to lend flexibility and give pre-eminence to the political agenda over the obfuscation of engineering technicalities.

5 Treaty outlines Preamble, Operative part containing twelve articles, Annexe. The guarantee clause provided the modicum of security there is a guarantee for 5,000 cusecs to either side in the alternate ten day segment in the period 11 march to 10 may. Also when the flow goes below 50, 000 cusecs the treaty recognises an emergency situation and provides for immediate consultations. Validity for thirty years subject to review by the two governments at five years intervals or as desired by either signatory. India will not release less than 90 percent of its entitlement of water. It also provides for a conflict resolution mechanism by prescribing a joint monitoring of flows, which should eliminate or minimise the possibility of disagreements over the data. If Joint committee is unable to solve the matter will be referred to the two governments.

6 The final agreement Sharing to be by ten-day periods from January1-May31 every year. 50:50 basis, if the availability at Farakka is less than 70,000 cusecs. Bangladesh will get 35,000 cusecs and India the balance of flow if the availability at Farakka is between 70,000 and 75,000 cusecs. India will receive 75,000 cusecs and Bangladesh the rest in case of availability of 75,000cusecs or more. During the critical months of April Bangladesh will get a guaranteed flow of 35,000 cusecs in the first and last ten days of April, and 27,633 cusecs during the period 11-20April. If flow falls below 50,000 cusecs in any ten-day period the two governments will enter into immediate consultations to make emergency adjustments. The schedule is an indicative schedule based on the average 40 years flow data,

7 The first crack Availability of waters of Ganges at Farakka turned out to be far less* For the next twenty days the flow of water was notably below the quantity tributaries of Padma, Goari.Madhumati, Arial Khan and others had dried up. End of march, flow recorded only 6500 cusecs the lowest ever water level. By early April the flow kept fluctuation between 10, ,000 cusecs and by early May water availability at Farakka 40,000 cusecs. Bangladesh thus received less water than was stipulated under the treaty in 12 out of the 15 days during dry season of The Indo- Bangladesh joint committee held its first meeting at Bheramara few kms away from the Hardinge Bridge site, JRC met Dhaka, 10 April India confirmed that flows at Farakka had indeed slowed down but attributed this situation to the normal hydrological cycles that occur every four – five years. It explained that ice in Himalayas was not melting enough to raise water levels.

8 Advantage Bangladesh Treaty of long-term duration unlike the previous MOUs. De-linkage from the question of augmentation. Fail-safe provision to prevent treaty vacuum. Intermittent flow shortage The first ten days of February, 2009 was 81,650 cusec which was lower than the 40 years historical average flow of 86,323 cusec as mentioned in treaty.

9 River Teesta negotation Teesta River. While the issue was first raised in 1974 during the second meeting of the Joint River Commission, the issue acquired additional attention due to shortfalls in Teesta waters. The barrages on the Indian (2000) and Bangladeshi (1990) sides designed for 20,000 cusecs and 10,000 cusecs respectively. The flow of water in Teesta stands at 5,000 cusecs and this provides less water for Bangladeshi crops thereby evoking strong criticisms. In the past Bangladeshi demanded 80 per cent share of Teesta with the remaining 20 per cent going to India. India wanted a more equitable distribution of per cent in its favor. It wanted to keep the remaining portion of the water as its natural flows and for common usage by both countries. This however was not acceptable to Bangladesh.

10 Bangladeshi Concerns Poor water flow down the Ganges has been one of the causal factors behind a gradual silting-up of Bangladeshs river systems over the past decades. This reduced water flow, causing desertification in the downstream districts, it is also causing river beds to become shallow with silt and spill over during the monsoon, causing devastating floods along its banks. An estimated 2.4 billion tons of silt is carried by the seven major river systems, a substantial portion of which is deposited within the Bangladesh territory The flow of Ganges water is due to the abstraction of water on UP, Bihar Haryana and west Bengal. India has entered into agreement with Bhutan to divert flows of Sankos and Manas tributaries of Brahmaputra that joins the Ganges downstream. India planning a reservoir on Barak the mains source of Meghna

11 Indian proposal The JCE decided that the dimensions of principle and details The Indian side proposed keeping 10 per cent of the Teesta waters for its natural flow and sharing 15 per cent in proportion to the command areas in Indian and Bangladesh territories. In the 2003 rounds of discussion India had insisted on scientific study and using hydrological survey before considering the water sharing formula, which Bangladesh finally agreed to in 2009

12 Indian domestic imperatives Presently Bangladesh has proposed water sharing on a basis at Gazoldoba however, water falls under the state subject in India. A final decision therefore, can be reached only after consultations with the state government of West Bengal in India. over 1million hectares of land in six districts of West Bengal are dependent on water from Teesta and it had already planned three hydro power plant including one with Sikkim. As is known, Teesta flows through Sikkim and norther West Bengal before entering Bangladesh Previous W B, CM Bhattacharya held New Delhis generous position on sharing of water as one of the reasons for siltation of the Calcutta port and its reduced navigability; Bangladeshis have been far more vociferous in their criticism of the treaty.

13 Bangladeshi domestic rhetoric Bangladesh believe India is taking advantage of the provision – treaty mentions the sharing of water during the period from January 1 to May 31 but not during the period from June 1 to December 31, which has enabled India to withdraw water unilaterally during this period. The Bangladeshi civil society – Public interest writ filed in 2008 led to a court ruling questioning the government for not asking for a review of the treaty although an international treaty is outside the purview of domestic jurisdiction. Indeed during the same year, Bangladesh received larger quantum of water than was specified in the agreement. Total flow reaching at Farakka during the first ten days of February, 2009 was 81,650 cusec which was lower than the 40 years historical average flow of 86,323 cusec as mentioned in treaty. Bangladesh was supposed to get 46, 323 cusec water but it apparently received 41,650 cusec water in first ten days of February.

14 Tipaimukh Project Indias planned dam at the Tipaimukh, river-linking project and erosion of border rivers. Tipaimukh Project on the Barak river in Manipur. The project is planned to generate 1500-MW hydropower and flood control for both Manipur and Mizoram. This involves building a metre high rockfill dam around 500 metres downstream of the confluence of river Barak with Tuivai. Bangladesh, as a downstream riparian, feels that the share of the Barak river will be greatly reduced damaging it economically and ecologically The Project will have a 6 X 250 MW power house and will be completed in an estimated time of 12 years. MOU with the Govt of Manipur has been executed and NOC from the Govt of Manipur and Assam have been obtained. Development work on the Stage II activities of the project is being taken up.

15 Tipaimukh rationale Conceived way back in early 1970s, Bangladesh had requested India to address the flooding of Sylhet. As a run-of-the-river project on Barak, the Tipaimukh will power generation and not a water diversion project. But given the limited communication from the Indian side and little objective study, the public discourse in Bangladesh was dominated by speculative fears of Indias unilateral diversionary motives. With provision of water storage for no more than 10-days during the monsoon or surplus flow, this project would thus not only restrict the excessive flows during monsoon but also use that excess quantity to augment the limited amount of water available during the lean season.

16 Bangladeshi opposition Opponents in Bangladesh compare the project similar to the Farraka Barrage and fear that if not challenged a repeat of being denied less water would happen again The planned project has also faced protests from within the Indian northeastern states on issues of displacement and compensation. India has opened channels of discussion and invited Bangladesh for on-site visits to dispel any concern over the project Critics in Bangladesh feel that the Farraka Barrage, which was started as a trial run in 1974, was cleverly manipulated by India to extend the trial to its advantage. They feel strongly that the southwestern region of Bangladesh has been critically affected by the limited water it receives from the Ganges and that farming, fishing and logging have badly suffered.

17 Bangladeshi complaints Though India and Bangladesh have signed Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, Dhaka continues to complain that it has not got a fair deal. But have never asked for a review, even BNP has not in power or outside

18 Environmental changes related problems South Asian states are largely agrarian and heavily dependent on water. They share common water resources as well as similar water usage patterns Nearly 70 percent of the Himalayan glaciers are receding which eventually will lead to severe water shortages in the region. Environmental changes have caused the river basins to dry and groundwater supply

19 Climate change adverse effect Average temperature in the Himalayan rising resulting in the late arrival of monsoons, adversely affecting paddy production A study carried out under the BDCLIM (Bangladesh Climate) project indicate that the average annual runoff in the Brahmaputra basin would decline by 14 per cent by the year 2050 This has been a major source of concern for many of the governments which have in the past years been confronted with this problem. National water policies have been formulated by some of the states like Bangladesh, Bhutan, and India. lack of poor implementations of the policies. Indeed turf battles within states have not led to optimum utilisation of these policies The retreating glaciers would also directly affect the entire sub-Himalayan region, especially the lower riparian states of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Pakistan, causing floods, drought, and shortage of fresh water

20 Cooperative framework To regard water sharing as a contentious issue between the two governments is probably far too alarmist. It is, however, an emotive issue within Bangladesh, raised frequently to feverish pitch by political parties. At the state level, institutional arrangements and ground realities has enabled sensible riparian approaches. India provides to Bangladesh flood data on Farakka for Ganga (from 15th June to 15th October), and the flood data on Pandu, Goalpara and Dhubri for Brahmaputra river and of Silchar for Barak river during monsoon period (from 15th May to 15th October). Data of river Teesta, Manu, Gumti, Jaladhaka and Torsa are also provided. Bangladesh has been able to adopt precautionary measures with the availability of this free information supplied by India.

21 Way Forward? The only way forward is good hydrodiplomacy and consultation backed by technical knowledge to manage riparian relations between the two. Bangladesh cannot change its lower riparian position and will have to engage in cooperative arrangements based on water sharing and not on water rights. India as an upper riparian has the responsibility to ensure that the equitable principles are best adhered to without undermining its own requirements The problem of lack of information – At official and public domain – Obvious need for Transparency

22 Way Ahead Cooperative frame work Shift from bilateral to multilateral Integrated River basin management approach – Ganga Meghna Brahmaputra – Huge hydropotential – Navigation potentials untapped


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