Inter Basin Water Transfer link Project

Sustainable Development Networking Programme Bangladesh

Inter Basin Water Transfer Link Project of India

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Water is central to the way of life in Bangladesh

Inter Basin Water Transfer link Project
Indian National Perspective Plan
Persons Behind The Project
National Water Policy/Act
Scenario of Water Resources of India
Progress of Work So Far
Trans Boundary River Management
Bangladesh's Perspective

Inter Basin Water Transfer link Project

Nearly three-fourths of the world surface is water which while extremely critical for the earth’ survival is not fit for direct human consumption or for economic activities such as agriculture and manufacturing industry. Freshwater fulfills this need. Unfortunately, freshwater flow which is composed of surface water in rivers, inland lakes (excluding perhaps the Dead Sea) and wetlands (excluding estuaries and marine-influenced ones), and ground water is unevenly distributed over space and time (between years and between seasons within a year). Attempts therefore have been made by countries and nations to distribute freshwater as evenly as possible. This has given rise to engineering interventions since time immemorial.

According to one count, there are now 45,000 large dams (with heights more than 15 metres) all over the world most built during the last four decades or so. Over the last fifty years the man-made water storage capacity has risen 7 times.

The South-Asian subcontinent reflects in a smaller scale what has been going on all over the world. Particularly, this area has seen major activities related to dam-construction and water storage in a big way. Most river ecosystems do not, however, respect any national boundary. So is the situation related to three of the world’s largest river ecosystems, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Indus.

While the first two counts in their watersheds practically all countries in the South Asian landmass (i.e., Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan) as well as China in case of the Brahmaputra, the Indus system is largely confined between India and Pakistan. In such cases, it is natural that countries try to reach settlements regarding the shares of the water in the river ecosystems and watersheds. This is particularly important and critical for the lower riparian countries such as Bangladesh.

Such treaties generally take their cues from the existing treaties elsewhere in the world as well as the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses and the Helsinki Rules. A general principle in all these treaties, conventions and rules is that the available water must be equitably shared between nations and that the harm to the lower riparian countries should be minimised.  That means that if the upper riparian countries initiate programmes that may have adverse impacts on the lower riparian nations, they must notify the stakeholder countries of the intended activities. The Indian programme for linking of rivers and transferring huge volumes of water from mainly its north and north-eastern parts (having major rivers common with Bangladesh) to the south falls in this category.

The programme has already generated a lot of controversy within India and outside as to its merit. This is also a life and death question for Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government is known to have communicated its concern to the Indian government. What it means in actual practice is unknown. In the mean time, there had been several citizens’ initiative in Bangladesh, India and elsewhere. But much of the background information on the river-linking, the nature of the controversies, the estimated adverse impact on Bangladesh, the imperatives of the Indian officialdom, citizens’ actions – all these are largely unknown to the general masses of the people in Bangladesh.  SDNP-Bangladesh, with its mandate of dissemination of information on sustainable development, therefore has launched a separate web-page within its main web site to store and publicise the relevant information, as available.

You are welcome to browse the information linked to this page and let us know of your reaction to them. If there is a demand for it, we may initiate a discussion group on this issue. for more information or any comments mail to [email protected]



Inter Basin Water Transfer link Project

Press Release
Address by President of Indian
Speech of the Prime Minister of India
Order of the Supreme Court
Time Table
National Commission
Task Force
TOR of Task Force
Cost of The Project
Details of Proposed Links


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