India's inter-river linking project will diminish the water flow in Bangladesh's two major rivers, the Padma and the Jamuna, harming the country's environment and economy, environmentalists said yesterday.
India initially plans to link the Ken-Betwa rivers in Madhya Pradesh, which will reduce the flow of the Ganges, they told a press conference organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
In February 2012, the Indian Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to the project that aims to link 30 major rivers through canals and withdraw water from the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and to flow it to India's arid states.
On January 2 this year, India's cabinet was set to approve the Ken-Betwa linking, according to The Times of India. But the Congress-led government did not do that because of its decreasing popularity, Bapa General Secretary MA Matin told The Daily Star.
He said, “Fearing that the linking would disturb the ecological balance, there was a popular pressure in India against the plans.”
The Ken and Betwa rivers flowing through Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are contributory to the Ganges.
Matin said that as the project had major concerns for the people Bangladesh, the government must pay close attention to its development and be vocal against it.
Prof Md Khalequzzaman, member of BEN, said the reduction in water flow and sediment supply to be caused by the upstream diversion would likely to reduce the flow at the Farakka Barrage, and have adverse consequences on the ecosystem of the Sundarbans.
He added that salinity intrusion in coastal rivers, sedimentation rates on flood plain, and delta plains, waterways, irrigation, and groundwater recharging would also be affected.