Tipaimukh Dam

Introducion: Bangladesh and India is sharing as many as 54 trans-boundary rivers with each other. Out of those 54 rivers, the respective Indian water management authorities have been heavily modifying annual flows of 48 rivers. The very consequences of those modifications are unprecedented and affecting the overall economy of the country. The experience is already very bad in the northwest and southwest region of Bangladesh due to Farakka Barrage on Ganges River, and it is expected that this will occur more in future for the other rivers also. India's plan to build a mega dam on the Barak River at Tipaimukh has stirred primal fears in Bangladesh. For the 150 million people of this low-lying delta, the rivers are the cradle of life. Bangladeshis depend on the river system for food, water and transportation. After the disaster caused by India's Farakka Barrage, Bangladesh can ill afford another monstrosity that will squeeze the rivers' life-giving flow. Public concern has been heightened by the extraordinary secrecy that has shrouded Tipaimukh from the beginning. Although Indian diplomats have been at pains to assure Bangladesh that Tipaimukh will not have the same ecological effects as Farakka, people remain fearful. Many critics have suggested the Tipaimukh Multipurpose Dam project could cause desertification of the North-east and allow salinity to move up from the Bay of Bengal. But the freewheeling debate about desertification may be masking more critical social and environmental consequences.

Where is Tipaimukh Dam located? Geographic Location: The Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project is being constructed near the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers, in Manipur, India and within 100km of Bangladesh border. Costing Rs 6,351 crore ($1.35 billion) the 164 meter high dam will have a firm generation capacity of 401.25MW of electricity. While Hydroelectric projects are typically considered greener than other power generation options in short term, it has significant long-term impact to the environment like changes in the ecosystem, destroying nearby settlements and changing habitat conditions of people, fish and wildlife. Especially in the densely populated countries like India and Bangladesh, where rivers are lifelines, projects like Tipaimukh will create adverse effect to a huge number of population and their habitats. No wonder right from the start this project faced protests from potentially affected people in India, and from the downstream neighbor Bangladesh. The people of Manipur have been fighting legally to stop the project but have so far been unsuccessful. The Indian government is going ahead with the plan. The Sinlung Indigenous People Human Rights Organisation (SIPHRO) of India said that “the process for choosing it (the project premises) ignored both

the indigenous people and the recommendations of the WCD (World Commission on Dams)”. The construction of Tipaimukh dam will have serious adverse impact on the downstream part of the Barak river basin, which is in northeastern part of Bangladesh, and known as SurmaKushyiara-Meghna river basin, an autonomous research institute in Bangladesh has recently conducted a study on the impact of Tipaimukh dam on Bangladesh. The study predicts that, the dam, once operational, will change the hydrological pattern of the Barak River. According to the report, the overall nature of impact can be summarized in six broad categories, like hydrological impact, impact on flooding pattern and on river-floodplainwetland ecosystem, impact on morphology, impact on water quality, dam-beak and general.

Fig – 1


Disapproval in dam construction from India‟s point of veiw? 1. Displacement of people especially of vulnerable minorities 2. Vast forestland to be inundated along with the biodiversity 3. Dams are not fruitful solution to any problems 4. Possible earthquake could have devastating effect Disapproval in dam construction from Bangladesh‟s point of veiw? 1. Possible river drying and devastation of wetland (Haor) 2. Possible flood in summer/winter in lowlands causing damage to agriculture

Fig – 2

(http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=177285242323966&set=o.117380752505) or (http://jadevista.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/the-tipaimukh-debate/)

The haors or flood plains of the Surma basin are unique ecosystems home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Parts of the region have been designated Ramsar sites of international importance, and protected by the Bangladesh government as Ecologically Critical Areas (ECA). The total area of this wetland covers nearly 25000 square kilometers and supports approximately 20 million people. The wetlands of the Surma basin perform two crucial functions: they serve as the granaries and fisheries of the Northeast. Many of the species inhabiting the haors will be threatened by loss of habitat, but more importantly it is the people of the wetlands who might be on the endangered list if the Tipaimukh dam goes ahead. The hilly parts of the Northeast are not fertile, and therefore the rice mills of Ashugonj, Bhairab and elsewhere are heavily dependent on rice from the lowlands. The farmers and rice traders bring the rice on wooden longboats, navigating skilfully across the floodplain.

Fig – 3 (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=177285425657281&set=o.117380752505)

What‟s the possibility that Tipaimukh would end up drying the Surma-Kushiyara rivers?

Fig – 4 (http://www.secularvoiceofbangladesh.org/Tipaimukh_Dam/Tipaimukh%20Dam%20FAQ-filer/image006.jpg)

A Typical Flood Control Dam outflow graph It‟s highly unlikely. The dam can be used in its full potential without withdrawing any river water. A dam with a reservoir actually augments the flow of a river during dry season, while it withdraws the same during rainy season. One typical flood control dam outflow graph is shown in the picture. Also, to consider Hydropower generation, a limited discharge has to be there during lean season also. This discharge will add to the flow and increase lean season flow. (i.e, the portion excess water coming out of reservoir)

How would this affect the ecological balance of the region? Dams, like all other man-made infrastructures, are actually disasters for ecological balance of a region. When a dam creates its own rule of ecology, the existing one is demolished. In this particular case, there is a couple of major ecological balance shifting. In India, this could potentially cause destruction of a vast forestland. In Bangladesh, it could potentially damage a vast natural wetland, known as Haor. Although, the extent of the damage to the Haors could not be measured at this point, the damage due to inundation is obvious. I need to add a point on ecological balance in general. Shift in ecological balance does not always mean a problem in short term. It causes problem in the long term. Any flood moderation structure would cause damage to ecology – be they embankments or dams – as floods are part of ecological balance. There are two options – the first is to allow people to live with the floods and cause no damage to the ecology. The second is to establish a flood moderation embankment and damage the ecology for the long term. In this part of the world, building a flood moderation structure is more popular because of high population density in the floodplains. The problems of flood affected people generally exceed by far the concern of damaging the ecology even in the long term. People assume that by that time, they would probably have sufficient technology to counter the backlash of Nature. Also, the democratic

society creates pressure on the Administration to act proactively towards moderation of human problems. If humans are illiterate and unaware of long term damages, the short term solutions get political preference. Of late, there are a lot of proposals floating against traditional flood moderation structures like river training, embankments and dams. However, the alternatives floated with those arguments are not significantly different than the structures they argue against and the alternatives do actually retain a lot of problems those are created by current structures. Although the alternatives are claimed to be more sustainable in Nature, a complete feasibility study along with their long term effects are yet to be observed, i.e. they are not yet tested to be sustainable, only claimed to be sustainable.

What are the Haors and how they are going to be damaged by this project? A haor is a wetland ecosystem in the north eastern part of Bangladesh which physically is a bowl or saucer shaped shallow depression, also known as a swamp. It receives surface runoff water by rivers and channels. Consequently, a haor becomes very extensive water body in the monsoon and dries up mostly in the post-monsoon period. The haor basin is an internationally important wetland ecosystem, which is situated in Sunamganj, Habiganj and Moulvibazar districts and Sylhet Sadar Upazila, as well as Kishoreganj and Netrokona districts.

Fig - 5

Haors in flood season - villages are islands During the rainy season, haors turn into a vast inland sea within which the villages appear as islands. Occasional high winds during July to September generate large waves in the haor, which may cause considerable damage to homesteads. During the dry season, most of the water drains out leaving one or more shallow beels which become mostly overgrown with aquatic vegetation or completely dry out by the end of dry season exposing rich alluvial soils extensively cultivated for rice. As population increased in Bangladesh, boro (a rice variety) cultivation expanded onto these haors, leading to a large area being drained. Thus, the very existences of these wetlands are now threatened.

Impacts on Hydrology The IWM study estimate that once the Tipaimukh dam is fully functional, average annual monsoon inflow from the Barak River at Amalshid point to the Surma-Kushiyara-Meghna River system would be reduced around 10% for month June, 23% for month July, 16% for month August and 15% for month September. Water level would fall by more than 1 meter on average during the month July at Amalshid station on the Kushiyara River, while this would be around 0.25 meter, 0.15 meter and 0.1 meter at Fenchuganj, Sherpur and Markuli station, respectively. On the other hand, at Kanairghat and Sylhet station on the Surma River, average water level would drop by 0.75 meter and 0.25 meter, respectively in the same month. During relatively drier monsoon year, dam would have more impact on the availability of monsoon water in the Barak-Surma-Kushiyara River than the average annual monsoon year. Like for the month July, August and September, flow would be reduced as much as 27%, 16% and 14%, respectively, 4%, 2% and 2% higher than the volume reduction found for average monsoon year. Impact on Inundation Pattern and River-Floodplain-Wetland Ecosystem Sylhet and Moulvibazar district in northeastern part of Bangladesh will be effected more due to the Tipaimukh Dam operation regarding their natural monsoon-flooding pattern. For Sylhet district, total inundated area would be reduced by 30,123 ha. (26%) during post-dam scenario than it actually happens in pre-dam average monsoon season. For Moulvibazar district, this would be around 5,220 ha. (11%). 71% of the Upper Surma-Kushiyara Project area would no longer be flooded during average monsoon season for post-dam condition. The Kushyiara River would cut its connection with its right bank floodplain for around 65 km. reach. As a result the river at this part will become „Reservoir River‟; rather than a most valuable „Floodplain River‟. The Kushiyara-Bardal haor (wetland) on the left bank of the Kushiyara River would become completely dry during average monsoon year dry due to Tipaimukh dam operation. The Kawardighi haor (wetland) would also lose around 2,979 ha. (26 %) of its usual inundated land during average monsoon year. Impact on Damrir haor and Hakaluki haor would be relatively less in comparison to other haors of the Sylhet and Moulvibazar district. The above impacts on the river-floodplain-wetland would destroy the

natural integrity of the ecosystem involved within these physical system, thereby, the consequences of that will be the loss of riverine habitat and species, lack of enrichment of land with the nutrient full silt leading to the ultimate decline in the natural productivity of the two most abundant resources of Bangladesh – land and water.

Impact on Morphology The erosion just downstream of the Tipaimukh Dam would be excessively high and this erosion would continue as long as hundred kilometers downstream or more. This excessive erosion in the first 100 or 150 km. of Barak River downstream of the dam would increase the overall deposition in the lower Barak River, thereby, in the Surma- Kushiyara River system. Low flow during late monsoon and post-monsoon will accelerate this deposition in the region.

The probable deposition during late monsoon and post-monsoon season will raise the overall bed level of the rivers, and for an extreme case it would block the mouth of certain tributaries originating from the Kushiyara River. Bed level would rise and that will induce the average monsoon flood to become a moderate to severe flood in the floodplain of the SurmaKushiyara. There would be possibility of increasing erosion in the upper Kushiyara River, and this will cause more deposition in the downstream of Kushiyara River and in Kalni River. Dam Break and Its Consequences The communities living in the downstream of any dam remains in a constant threat of catastrophe being occurred by dam-bursts and dam induced other floods. The apprehension like this is intensified further when the very seismic characteristics, its activities as well as the instability of the Tipaimukh Dam site and the region as a whole is taken into the consideration. The claimed Reservoir Induced Siesmicity (RIS) is another important feature of any large dam project that should be considered in the analysis of safety ground of Tipaimukh Dam Project. Construction of Tipaimukh dam is violation of co-riparian rights India and Bangladesh share many rivers and water resources. The rivers that flow across the northern parts of India are mostly international rivers or their tributaries. In the North Eastern region, the Brahmaputra River and the Barak River are both international rivers. The joys and sorrows that these two rivers mean for the peoples of Bangladesh and northeastern India are shared. This issue has been well recognized and many efforts are in place to address this unhappy state of affairs. International water treaties have been made and even a Joint Rivers Commission was set up to examine and settle disputes. The Tipaimukh Dam project was entirely developed and approved without once informing the government of Bangladesh or involving its people in any meaningful exercise to assess the downstream impacts of the dam. This is clearly a gross violation of co-riparian rights of Bangladesh. The unilateral construction of Tipaimukh dam on an international river is also violation of UN Convention on the Law of Non-navigational Uses of International watercourses.

Tipaimukh dam and WCD recommendation on Gaining Public Acceptance Gaining public acceptance (GPA) of key decisions is essential for equitable and sustainable water and energy resources development. GPA has been recommended by WCD as the first strategic priority. Recognition of rights and assessment of risk to identify stakeholders, full access to information, negotiated agreements as the basis of demonstrable public acceptance of key decisions and guidance on projects affecting citizens of diverse social, ethnic, cultural and economic background by their free prior and informed consent are the underlying policy principles. The first Dams and Development Forum meeting acknowledged the need to have transparency in decision-making. The opportunity for all stakeholder groups to participate, fully and actively, in decision-making process should be enabled. In this process, the definition of stakeholders, establishment of norms for consultations and involvement of all stakeholders and means of dispute resolution is necessary. This whole process has an implicit assumption that all these happen within a national system. What if a dam is built on an international river and the impacts are also downstream in another independent state, like the case of Tipaimukh dam? The first known official investigation on the possibility of Tipaimukh dams conducted in 1977-78 by NEC, CWC and report was ready in 1984. Till now, the Government of India has never officially informed the Government of Bangladesh or the people and communities living downstream about the construction on Tipaimukh dam. The Tipaimukh Dam project was entirely developed and approved without once informing the Government of Bangladesh or involving its people in any meaningful exercise to assess the downstream impacts of the dam. This is clearly a gross violation of co-riparian rights of Bangladesh. The experience of Tipaimukh dam raises a number of questions, which has to be answered if we are to develop mechanism(s) and policies for gaining public acceptance of large dams. The Guidelines issued in 2000 by the World Commission on Dams clearly state that a dam should not be constructed on a shared river if other riparian States raise an objection that is upheld by an independent panel. Worldwide, the dam debate is rooted in the wider, ongoing debate on equitable and sustainable development. The World Commission on Dams declared in its final report that while “dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development, in too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms, by people displaced, by communities downstream, by taxpayers and by the natural environment.”

Fig - 6

From the analysis presented in the earlier pages, we can conclude that the Tipaimukh Dam Project of India would affect the floodplains‟ as well as haors’ hydrology to a considerable scale. The following section will, however, describe some theoretical aspects of such impacts on the overall riverine ecosystem of the Surma-Kushiyara River. In other words, what the country is going to face due to such hydrological effects on floodplains and haors in true sense has been presented here from a river-floodplain-wetland ecosystem perspective, though in a very elementary manner. However, this type of apprehension has not been aroused for not only that Bangladesh is the downstream riparian of the Meghna Basin but also for the core hydrological misconception of how we understand and characterize the river basin and the eco-hydrological system it produces. How natural phenomena like rivers and its flood have been conceptualized – in psychologically, materially and the symbolically – in a era of supremacy of „modern science‟ and how this supremacy can be maneuvered to meet the nationalistic development goal of a modern country that is also a question to ponder about.

North South University Department of Life Science Assignment On Tipaimukh Dam

Submitted to: Dr.S.M.Mostafa Kamal Khan(SKK) Course: Bio 103 Assistant Professor Departmen of Life Science

Submitted by: Md.Saif Hussain – 083095530 Afrida Mashnoon – 1010791030 Syed Nahidur Rahman – 0930657030 Fakhorus Salehin Nahian – 0930055030


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