National, Front Page

Dhaka-Delhi journey in next 50 yrs

Mutual water dev, management crucial

Published : 01 Dec 2021 10:44 PM | Updated : 02 Dec 2021 03:17 PM

Bangladesh and India need pragmatic development and management of water resources, not merely water sharing, for mutual benefit.

Speakers made the observation at an open discussion tilled ‘50 years of Bangladesh-India partnership towards a journey in next 50 years’.

Professor Emeritus Ainun Nishat, country’s distinguished water expert, said, “In 1972, Bangabandhu and Indira Gandhi laid out a formula for an optimum use of water resources. However, water is a big and grave issue at the moment, which will be a major crisis in future.”

He opined that water sharing is not a solution to overcome the problem. “We have to jointly manage it by developing water resources reciprocally,” he added.

“Water is a contentious issue. To solve the crisis, we should develop and manage water resources through cooperation of the two countries.”

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) of Bangladesh and Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) of India jointly organised the event at a hotel in the capital. 

Professor Ainun Nishat said, ‘Drought is a big problem in our country. We need to develop storage of water to tackle the crisis. Industrial water will be a big issue in next five years. So, we must have focus on it.’.

Ainun Nishat further said that ‘There are two main opportunities in Bangladesh and India. One is hydropower and another is navigation. Bangladesh and India can generate huge amount of hydro power in Arunachal and Assam in India. Besides, we can get more navigation facilities. So, we need to push for basin approach.’

He also emphasizes the importance of doing it by an institutional framework between Bangladesh and India.

Md. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs said, ‘As neighbors, it is a good relation between Bangladesh and India, which provide unique opportunity to make partnership for next 50 years. 

‘Bangladesh has a lot of similarity with India in various aspects including civilization, economic, social and others, which is rare in the world. India is providing unchanged support to Bangladesh since 1971. After the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the relations deteriorated between Bangladesh and India. Later when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of the Bangabandhu formed the government , she built a relationship of new height with good partnership. The year of 2021 is very important for Bangladesh and India in golden jubilee celebration of Bangladesh,’ he continued.  

Shahriar Alam also said , ‘There are many opportunities between the two countries in many sectors, like blue economy, renewable energy, trading and others. Bangladesh is now importing around 1100MW of electricity from India. We have also plan to import more electricity. Besides, we will import hydro power from Nepal through India. 

Bangladesh and India cooperated with each other during the Covid-19 pandemic. India has received highest 2.2 million of tourists from Bangladesh this year. A lot of Indian citizens are working in Bangladesh.  

Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairmen of CPD, said, ‘I think the relations between Bangladesh and India are developing day by day. There are three major issues and opportunities between Bangladesh and India. One is economic issues like cement, fertilizer, Jute and other industry for export and import. Second common issue is water and the third one is transport.’

‘Indo-Bangla trading has progressed in last 50 years. However, the issue of water is still being discussed. And the transport issue is a political one. If we can develop the three major opportunities, both the  countries will reap benefit,’ he added.

Among others Dr Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General of RIS, Professor Muchkund Dubey, former High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Dr. Selim Raihan, Executive Director of SANEM, Bangladesh, S K Mohanty, Professor of RIS, Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Distinguished Fellow of CPD, Dr. Sreeradha Datta, Md. Shahidul Haque also spoke while Dr. Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director of CPD was the moderator at the event.