U.S. Water News Online
CALCUTTA, India -- Bangladesh is in danger of turning into
a desert if India goes ahead with an ambitious scheme to link its
major rivers, Bangladesh's water resources minister said.
``India's program to link major rivers is a matter of concern to
Bangladesh and is a big issue for us,'' the minister, Hafizuddin
Ahmed, told reporters in the eastern city of Calcutta.
Ahmed, who led the Bangladeshi team at two days of talks in the
Indian capital, New Delhi, said the project would damage Bangladesh's
environment and agriculture.
Most of Bangladesh's 250 rivers originate in the Himalayas and run
through India before draining into the Bay of Bengal.
Arjun Charan Sethi, India's federal water resources minister, has
said the project was in its beginning stage and would benefit both
countries if implemented.
India wants to link 37 rivers by building reservoirs and canals,
diverting surplus water from its flood-prone east to its arid
central, western and southern regions for irrigation and power
Bangladeshi experts fear the project would significantly reduce
water levels in Bangladesh, depleting fish stocks, affecting river
transport and threatening the livelihoods of millions of people. They
say it could also lead to desertification in the north and east, and
raise salt levels in estuaries in southern Bangladesh.
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