29/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 15:06

Concerns over India rivers order

Category: Headlines

Published: 30th Mar 2012 17:44:41

A supreme court order in India asking the government to link more than 30 rivers and divert waters to parched areas has sparked concerns in neighbouring countries.

Bangladesh says it would be hardest hit because it is a downstream country to two major rivers that flow from India.

New Delhi is yet to respond to the neighbouring countries' reactions.

The multi-billion-dollar project was announced by the Indian government in 2002 but had since remained on paper.

Experts in Nepal say the country's unstable political situation could open the door for India to build dams and reservoirs in Nepalese territory for the inter-linking project - known as the ILR.

Hydrologists say as an upstream country, Nepal has ideal locations for the infrastructure required to make the mammoth Indian project happen.

Bhutan too has similar locations and some of its rivers are tributaries to the Bramhaputra, a major river system in the region included in India's river-linking project.

The project's basic idea is to take water from areas where authorities believe it is abundant and divert it to areas where there is less available for irrigation, power and human consumption.

Official Indian documents have stated that the country - with its population of 1.2 billion - is increasingly water-stressed.

But when the government tried to present the ILR as a possible solution, it became quite controversial as critics argued it would have huge environmental consequences.

They also said it was unfeasible on technical grounds and that not all the states through which the rivers flow might allow waters to be diverted.

Some Indian states already have long-running water sharing disputes.

Delivering the court's order earlier this month, the judges said the project had long been delayed, resulting in an increase in cost.

Some 10 years ago, the super-ambitious scheme was billed at $120bn and was estimated that it would take 16 years to complete.

The court has also appointed a committee to plan and implement the project in a "time-bound manner".

Even before any of that began, Bangladesh was already quite critical of the idea.

"We can never agree to it," Ramesh Chandra Sen, Bangladeshi water resources minister told the BBC.

"Our agriculture, economy and our lives depend on these rivers, and we cannot imagine their waters being diverted."

The Ganges and the Bramhaputra, Asia's major river systems that flow down to Bangladesh, are among the rivers India has planned to divert to its western and southern parts.

Ainun Nishat, a Bangladeshi water resource expert, was even more critical.

"India assumes that these rivers stop at its borders and that there will be no downstream impacts to Bangladesh if it did anything to those resources," he said.

"They (India) have always thought that the Bramhaputra has a surplus water but they don't seem to remember that there is a sovereign country called Bangladesh downstream which has a need for water."

Minister Sen said there had been no official communication with his government on the project from the Indian side.

Nepal's Energy Minister Posta Bahadur Bogati too said he had not received any official information.

Senior Nepali water expert Santa Bahadur Pun said there were concerns that politicians might not be able to secure a good deal for allowing India to build dams and reservoirs in Nepalese territory.

"That is because we hear our leaders talking only about the stereotype hydropower development whereas they should be focusing on making India pay for the downstream benefits it would be getting from its river-linking infrastructures in Nepal."

Such concerns also stem from the fact that some think Nepalese politicians are too preoccupied with the prolonged peace process that India mediated after a 10-year Maoist insurgency.

Bhutan says it has not been apprised of the project idea.

"While we recognise rivers as a trans-boundary issue, there has been no direct dialogue as far as building structures in Bhutan for the project (of India) is concerned," Bhutanese Minister for Agriculture and Forests Pema Gyamtsho told the BBC.

Media reports and academic papers apart, little has come out officially about the inter-river linking project.

In 2006, the Indian water resources minister at the time gave a brief response in the parliament when asked if there would be a white paper on the project.

"The ILR project is still at a conceptual stage only and all the far-reaching effects of the link projects can be analysed at the stage of preparation of detailed projects.

"As such, there is no need to release a white paper on the ILR at this stage."

Indian water resources ministry officials made no comment to the BBC's query how India took its neighbours' reactions to the recent supreme court's order to implement the river linking project.

Many of India's past water treaties and agreements with neighbouring countries Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan have been mired in disputes.

And now New Delhi has had to worry about China's plans to divert its southern rivers to the north, analysts say.

The main concern has been proposed Chinese hydro-electric plants on Tibet's Yarlung-Tsampo river that becomes the Bramhaputra in India, although Beijing has said it does not intend to divert its waters.

A number of studies have shown South Asia as one of the flashpoints over water resources in the future, particularly in the wake of climate change and a burgeoning population.

A recent assessment by the US intelligence agencies has said beyond 2022, South Asia will be one of the regions in the world where "water would be used as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism".

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Concerns over India rivers order [Online] (Updated 30th Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1419824/Concerns-over-India-rivers-order [Accessed 29th Jul 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • UUP records a deficit of £94,000

    The Ulster Unionist Party had a deficit of £94,000 last year due to a fall in the value of its share in an investment property.
  • Labour was best-funded UK political party in 2013

    Labour was the best-funded political party in the UK in 2013, with an income of £33.3m.
  • Glasgow 2014: Gayle Lloyd and Elena Johnson progress

    Guernsey's Elena Johnson and Gayle Lloyd are through to the last 32 in the badminton women's singles at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Edinburgh's Palmerston Place reopens following chemical alert

    A residential street in Edinburgh has reopened following a chemical incident in a house.
  • North Shields man who died after jumping in sea is named

    A man who died after jumping into the sea in North Tyneside has been named.