EFFECT OF GANGES WATER SHARING TREATY ON BANGLADESH ECONOMY AND REGIONAL RELATIONSHIP Introduction 1. The Ganges water sharing problem is not only the longest standing source of dispute between Bangladesh and India but also by now one of the most elaborately studied subjects in inter state relations in South Asia. The flow of the Ganges water stands 7000 waters above the sea level at its points of origin in Nepal and traverse for about 2550 kms through Nepal, India and Bangladesh before falling in the Bay of Bengal.
The main stream of Ganges splits into two channels before entering into Bangladesh, one flowing as Bhagirathi-Hoogli into West Bengal and the other as Padma into Bangladesh. The Ganges water dispute centres around the Barrage and the feeder canal constructed by India at Farakka, 18 kms upstream from Bangladesh. The Barrage is designed to divert part of Ganges dry season flow through the Hoogli-Bhagirathi river for flushing the silt in Calcutta port. The impact of the Ganges water i. e. the adverse affect of the Barrage on Bangladesh is enormous and multidimensional.
These have been several short term sharing agreements; the first one was worked out in 1977 and the land one ram out in 1989. Since them there was a total vacuum in the arrangement. The Governments of Bangladesh endeavored to their utmost to solve the issue. However, amidst of all efforts, due to 1 the unilateral apothegm withdrawal of water by India the agro-economic condition of Bangladesh aggravated to the maximum. And thus, a long term water sharing treaty has been in all aspect a need of the time. 2. The Ganges water sharing treaty signed on December 12, 1996 is very significant.
Infect it was a thorny issue in the relationship between the two countries. Since the commissioning of the Farakka Barrage in 1974, Bangladeshi agricultural, fishery, forestry, navigation, industry and every possible productive sector has been exposed to disastrous consequences. Historical balance has been servile disrupted by this substantial diversion of the Ganges flow during the dry season. Bangladesh proposed construction of the excess monsoon flow through storage in the Ganges basin in India and Nepal. India proposed instead transferring water from Brahmaputra river.
Each side rejected the others proposal. The negotiations were then in a deadlock. The stalemate resulted from the two sides’ very different approach to water resources management. All on a sudden the bilateral relation improved with the change of government in Bangladesh. An the long term treaty signed on Ganges water sharing is a reflection of that relationship between Bangladesh and India. 3. One striking feature of the Ganges as a river is that its flow are highly seasonal, with heavy floods during the monsoon and actuate scarcity during the dry season.
The presents treaty assures a limited water for the lower riparian Bangladesh. The questions that arise out of this are : a. How best we can utilize the water for our agro-economic development, b. What are the implication of the treaty on our national economy and regional relationship ? 4. This paper endeavors to bring answers to these questions. Aim 5. This paper aims to highlight the utility and impact of the Ganges water treaty signed on 12 Dec 96, on the economy of Bangladesh and her relationship with the regional countries. Adverse Effects of the Reduction of the Ganges Flow . Impact of reduction of the Ganges flow in various sectors are inter dependent and inter linked. Some of these are quantifiable while some other can only be qualitatively discussed. 7. Surface Water. Economic life of the south-west region of Bangladesh is dependent on the Ganges. Of its distributors, the Gorai plays the dominant role as it passes towards the industrial belt of Khulna. The sweet water supply through the Gorai is vital for-pushing back salinity and keeping an overall environmental balance. The distributor to also the source of potential irrigation development.
The reduction of dry season (January – May) natural flows in the Ganges in Bangladesh reduces the hydraulic efficiency of the channel. The flow situation became grave after expiry of the agreement in 1989 and continued unabated to date. 8. Ground Water. The fall of ground water about 10 feet has been observed in most of the wells along both the banks of the rivers the Ganges, the Mohananda and the Gorai-Modhumati from the prediversion normal level since 1976. Normal fall of ground water level and its fluctuations were observed to be maximum river the bank of the rivers. The quality of ground water has also deteriorated . River Morphology. Channel morphology to the Ganges and its distributors have also been affected since commissioning of the Farakka Barrage. A study of the longitudinal bed profile of the Ganges reverted the fact that the Bed of the Ganges has cited up substantially in the recent past comported to the pre-diversion period. This contributes to higher flood in the monsoon months. 10. Navigation. A total of 685 km of water ways, which were navigable during pre-diversion time have been adversely affected during the past diversion period. The confluence of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra was affected by shoos.
As a consequence, the BIWTA ferries are facing severe problems and dredging requirements have gone up. 11. Salinity. The most devastating effect of the division of the Ganges water has been caused by the marked increase in salinity, both in surfaces and ground water leading to higher sail salinity in the southwest region of Bangladesh. The major direct adverse effect of salinity is felt including agricultural production, fishery. forestry and power generation. In addition, and most significantly, such marked increase in salinity pace short and long term impacts on health, expected mortality rate and the eco-system as a whole. 2. Fishery. Reduction of wetlands have resulted in reduction in fish catch. But the most adversely affected fish are those which used to migrate upstream for breeding and spawning, Hilsha, which is an anadromous fish that requires fresh water flow, used to migrate upstream to spawn. As a result of the Barrage, this fish is no longer available in India and is in decline in Bangladesh. 13. Domestic, Municipal Water Supply and Public Health. The Ganges rivers is the main sources of domestic and municipal water supplies to the Ganges dependent area in Bangladesh.
Due to drastic reduction of surfaces water the people have been totally dependent of the ground water. But the availability and the quality of the ground water have become constrained too due to lowering of the ground water table and salinity intrusion. The effect of salinity has given rise to increased water borne discuses among the inhabitants of the south western region. 14. Forestry. The Sundarbans, littoral mangrove forest extend about 50 miles north of the Bay of Bengal and is bounded on the east by Baleswar river and on the west by the international boundary with India.
With the increase of salinity, Sundari, the main species of Sundarbans started dying and the regeneration at the species also deceased. 15. Agriculture. The damages in the agriculture sector due to reduced dry season flows during the entire past diversion period are manifold and have been qualified for individual causes. Delayed planting of crops by two months due to non-availability of surface water has resulted in considerably reduced field. Increased salinity on the other hand caused serve damage to crops lying in the saline zone.
The damage caused in agriculture sector has been estimated to be about Tk. 35,000 million (approx) at 1991 price index. 16. Ecology and Environment. The flora and found of south western Bangladesh have evolved in response to natural conditions to form a climax ecosystem, which is now threatened with degradation from inadequate supply of fresh water. The actions which triggered the degradation process of the total ecosystem of this region can be grouped into two brawl categories : a. Salinity increase in soil and water (surface and ground) from tidal ingress. b. Accelerated situation channels.
The ecological changes has taken place significantly in the Sundarbans during the past decade. This is evident from the creation of natural blanks accounting for about 10 percent of the forest area. The damages in different sector during the entire post diversion period (19-6-1992), which could be evaluated in financial terms, shows that the cumulative damage equals to about Tk. 10, 8500 million. Highlights of the Ganges Sharing Treaty December 1996 17. The history of negotiation on Ganges water between India and Bangladesh illustrates a classic upstream vs downstream situation.
Bangladesh, proposed conservation of the excess monsoon flow while India hammered on transferring water from Brahmaputra river. So, far each side rejected others proposal. The stalemate resulted from the two sides very different approach to water management. In this instance, Bangladesh. , the downstream riparian, upheld the drainage basin concept and the principle of equitable apportionment proclaimed in the Helsinki Rules adopted by International Law Association in 1966. 18. At this moment the signing of the Ganges water sharing for a long term, heralds a new area in Indo- Bangladesh relationship.
The need of the country may be enormous. But this need must also be assessed not on the basis of what was but on what it available to day. For our planning, thus the arithmetic of the treaty will be needed. 19. Arithmetic of the Treaty a. The waters will be shared on 50:50 basis if the availability at Farakka is 70,000 cusecs or less. b. Bangladesh will get 35,000 cusecs and India the balance of flow if the availability at Farakka is between 70 and 75 thousand cusecs, c. In case of availability of 75,000 cusecs or more, India will receive 40,000 cusecs and Bangladesh the rest. d.
If the actual availability corresponds average flow of 40 years till 1988, Bangladesh will get 35,000 cusecs water in first and last 10 years of April and 27,633 cusecs from April 11-20. e. If the flow of Farakka falls below 50,000 cusecs in any 10 day of the identified lean period, the two governments will enter into immediate consultations to make adjustments on an emergency basis. f. India shall release down stream of Farakka Barrage, water at a rate not less then 90 percent of Bangladeshi shire until such time as mutually agreed flows are decided upon. Table-I The Treaty at a Glance Availability at |Share of |Share of | |Farakka |India |Bangladesh | |70,000 Cusecs or less |50% |50% | |70,000-75,000 cusecs |Balance of flow |35,000 cusecs | |75,000 cusecs or more |40,000 cusecs |Balance of flow | The table above depicts the main features of the treaty on Ganges Water Sharing. Effects on National Economy 20. General. The rivers of Bangladesh are an indivisible component of life and living of its people. That is why the increasing unilateral withdrawal by India in the upstream of the common flows and her diplomatic activities around them bring to bear certain far reaching adverse consequences on Bangladesh. Within one decade an abrupt change is marked on its physical, features environment, economy and social life of Bangladesh. All these are inter related and Effects on National Economy 20. General.
The rivers of Bangladesh are indivisible component of life and living of its people. That is why the increasing unilateral withdrawal by India in the upstream of the common flows and her diplomatic activities around them bring to bear certain far reaching adverse consequences on Bangladesh,. Within one decade an abrupt change is marked on its physical features, natural environment economy and social life of Bangladesh. All these are interrelated and have cumulative and multidimensional impact on the citizen and as a whole on the national economy. Thus the water sharing agreement has opened a new horizon. It will be an important milestone in our development history. 21. Economy.
The long drawn combined effect of Farakka Barrage is no grave for Bangladesh that its stability is at risk. Sectors like agriculture, industry, navigation, aqua-water of the northern and southwestern parts has been suffering from serious setbacks. The water that will be available under the treaty will not be enough to meet all the water demand of Bangladesh. Further planning is required to make use to this limited water for our agro-economic development. Cannel digging is an option to get the water to the right places. Stoppage facility for the water is also another requirement. Multipurpose barrage may need to be constructed for making off-season usage of thus limited water. The urge for establishing such barrage was felt.
Pre-feasibility study for a barrage on Ganges was done in 1984, but could not be materialised because of the absence to don’t finance. Donor countries were not interested, as we were not assured with water supply through any agreement. The present long term historic water treaty will enable us to convince donor countries. Infect World Bank has already agreed to finance Tk. 7,000 crores for the Ganges Barrage. The water sourced from the barrage would also support Ganges – Kabadak (G-K) project to restart its function smoothly. More the support on G-K project would bring definite impact on National economy. 22. Environmental. Due to the unilateral and upstream withdrawal of water by India. the impact on environment of overall Bangladesh is very severe and grave.
Specially the situation aggravated to the maximum in the last decade. As the last agreement water sharing ran out on 1989, its impact on our agro-based economy is felt in every spheres of life water sharing agreement is not the end of the solution of water crisis that we face each year. With the agreement we will not be able make available all the water that we need. We will have limited water. But the adverse effect on the environment is a long drawn one , so its eradication will also need quite some time even with the required supply of water through the treaty. It might take another decade or more to see the fruit of the treaty on environment.
The adverse effect has already made us vulnerable to Green House effect. So the need for thus water at least to maintain the stability of our climate and environment is utmost 23. Socio-Political a. Social Impact. The Ganges play on important role in socio political life of Bangladesh. The fluctuating and decreasing river flow has disrupted the social stability of south-western and north-western regions land degradation have made millions of people unemployed. Growing food deficit increasing unemployment as well as inflation are also associated with the problem. To make the problem worse, alternate floods and droughts frequently make thousands of people homeless.
There people migrate to the near by cities and create extra pressure of the scarce job market and help to increase food prices. Because of their social injustice and maltreatment they carry with them a feeling of antagonism against the source of their misfortune. This factor creates social unrest. b. Political Impact The issue has political implication too. Government failure to resolve the problem with India, has always been a matter of public resentment. The politician of Bangladesh , knowing very well the prevalence of this feeling among the general mass tried to capitalize on it. As a result anti-Indianism continued to among the general mass, which instead of solving the problem further complicated it. c.
Present Scenario The goodwill and trust that has been created by signing the so year treaty will definitely have positing impact on the socio-political and economic aspect of the affected zone. Which in turn will affect the national economy and social life as a whole. Now the question arises, how long will it take to within such impact? The right to cat the fruit has been agreed upon, now we have to nourish the tree properly to get the desired fruit well in time. So the government must formulate her policy very cautiously, India, will always have upperhand just because of her geographical location. So, we must take care and must not allow our political parties to exploit the situation like earlier days.
We must as well maintain diplomatic and goodwill relation with India to resolve other outstanding issues. 24. Bilateral and International Relationship The signing of the Ganges water agreement for a thirty year period is indeed a landmark in the development of relation between Bangladesh and India. Straight forward bilateralism has often failed to help the country in the past, irrespective of whether the leadership in power chose to pursue a policy of delis-create dependence or regional power game in seeking national in interest. Considering all the agreement was a political break through. It was a triumph of great political proportions forages Ministers and forcing office of both countries played a key role for this bilateral agreement.
The heads of the government of his states succeeded through this water resources treaty to bring together peoples and institutions of the countries into bilateral concert. This has been a treaty bilaterally equitable to the parties and internationally recognized as such. The treaty has apparently brought in amicable resolution of formerly the most countries issue between Bangladesh and India. This surely the treaty can be taken as a start for the settlement of other bilateral and international issues. We can hope and put our best diplomatic efforts so that this improvement of bilateral ties can lead to the resolution of the border demarcation problem, repatriation of Chittagong Hill Tracts tribal, import of power, transit issue etc.
Our politicians should have a firm belief to pursue similar policy to resolve the other outstanding issues. While making such settlements political leads have to put highest priority to National interest sacrificing party interests. Best Utilization of the Water 25. The taste of the pudding is in eating. So, were getting the water is not enough. We have to organize ourselves to maximum the use of water to the best of our advantage and capability. However, the water that will be available under the water treaty and the proposed Brahmaputra water treaty and the treaty for sharing all other common rivers will not be enough to meet the entire needs for irrigation and other water use sectors. This will as will not be enough to maintain the ecology.
So, Bangladesh must make all out efforts to make the optional and judicious use of this limited water. There can be many ways and means few of the major one has taken touched upon in this paper. 26. Formulation of National Water Policy. It is already discussed that our country suffers both from tremendous excess of water in one seasons and its acute shortage in another. So, by necessity, it moots have a water policy. Yet the irony is that while we suffer from recurrent flooding and draught, we didn’t formulate a water policy for ourselves. Now the questions arises, why a water policy is required ? The answer is very obvious. When we have a resource as important as life giving water, we have to devise ways of using it well.
It is not only the surface water that we need to concern ourselves with, but also of ground water and rain water will have to form a part our national water policy. Already the discriminate and unplanned use of our ground water has led to dangerous fall of our water level. We need a water policy to make the best use of this increasingly scarce resource, a resource whose judicious use holds the key to our future development. National Water council should come into effect and review the development and investment plans in water sector. It as well should fix up profile of priority projects to establish or water rights. 27. Barrage Projects on the Ganges.
A study on high level water resources clearly indicated that by 2000 AD all surface water projects with the available surface flow will be exhausted and for future development there is no alternative but to go for barrage projects on the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Ganges Barrage near Pangsha was identified in pre-feasibility study in 1984. With the construction of the barrage with a pond level of 12. 2 m it will be possible to head up the water level in the Ganges. The limited water that will be available under the treaty will enable to maintain the pond level, which will help in providing better support to the entire basis: a. Solution to the Problem of Gorai. In the dry season the low flow of water creates huge silt al the month of Gorai, the distributor of the Ganges. Past experiences show that dredging to keep the mouth open failed.
Without flushing of enough sweet water from the Ganges, the salinity in the Khulna area will remain quite high, which compels some of the industrial units to import sweet water by barrage from other sources 30 to 40 miles away. The salinity will continue to move further inland and the condition of Sundarbans will continue to deteriorate creating future ecological imbalance in the region. The barrage will cable to help in diverting gravity flow in the Gorai for flushing in the south-west and to stop ingress of saline water inland. b. Facilitation of the Steady Operation of Ganges-Kobadak (G-K) Irrigation Project. The G-K project was planned with the lift irrigation from the Ganges.
The total area of the projects is 1,97,500 hectares of which the net cultivable areas is 1,42,000 hectares. The main objective of the project was to help self-sufficiency in food grains and to improve socio economic condition to the people in the projects area. For normal operation of the projects it requires a water level of 4. 7 m. For the last four years projects remained inoperative due to the scarcity of water. Now if the barrage can be implemented, then the G-K projects will get assured water, and thus the agro-economic, socio-economic and environmental condition in the area will develop. 28. Augmentation through Thana Irrigation Programs.
One of the means of utilization of the water is the renewal of the old Thana irrigation Programs. Time has now come to revert back to augmentation of water through enhancing the water carrying capacity of all types of water bodies, building water control structures and preservation of surface water as much as possible for use during the dry season. The Thana Irrigation Program is on immediate answer, and we must step out towards that. 29. Other Irrigation Projects Opportunity provided by the treaty must be utilised to maximize the vise of water for establishment of water rights. Some of the projects identified in the Ganges dependent area can be taken up on a priority basis.
The north Rajshahi irrigation project, Baral irrigation project and Pabna irrigation project can be updated for early implementation. South west Regional study has identified a number of project for detailed engineering and implementation. These should be taken up simultaneously. World Bank has already agreed to finance the Ganges Barrage, so finding out other donors for these projects will now totally depend on our efforts and projection of their importance. 30. Other Uses of the Barrage a. Feasibility study for the construction of the barrage on the Ganges provided for supply of irrigation water in the south west of Bangladesh to irrigate an area of 1. 5 Mha, in addition another 0. 21 Mha could be irrigated through ground water and standing water bodies. b. Provision would be made for supply of gas, hydro power and other services over the barrage. c. The hydro power generation would be very cheap. This power supply in the remote areas would definitely encourage the investors to insert and establish industries in the remote areas. What the government could not do through the tax-holiday would be automatically done through this power projects. This would definitely provide employment to the locals and thus their economic condition will improve. d. Adequate waters in the canals will facilities the water ways movement.
This a communication network will easily connect remote areas to the nearby towns and cities. This will add to their socio-economic development. In addition the water ways movement to the cheapest and creates minimum environmental regards. e. Waters will generate production of agro-based raw materials just at the door step of the industries. This will invite further industrialization in the remote areas. All these will add to our development process in accelerated rate. Effects on regional Relationship 31. For last seven years, India refused to sit for an interim agreement. It was also blinded by an obsessive bilateralism that refused to sec any light of multi literalism and regional involvement in options for augmentation.
India’s resistance to a regional approach to the problem despite all technical justification is viewed mainly as a strategy to ensure that Bangladesh is endemically vulnerable – politically, economically. socially and environmentally. The long drawn issue of Ganges water dispute has been settled through this treaty. Past experiences are bitter, now we have to wait and see how this treaty stands the test of time. If the efforts are cordial, then definitely this will have positive impact on all other unsolved disputed bilateral issues in the queue. 32. In this stage of globalization, we can hardly take a course that alienates us from the rest of the world. We must make efforts so that the historical facts add political situation cannot do harm to our interest. We hould take step so that the ratification of all treaty is done at the UN General Assembly. Side by side we should also get this ratification done in SAARC, to give the treaty a regional cover. 33. India has shown interest in different water development projects in Bhutan and Nepal. It implemented this will help in augmenting the flow in Ganges. Bangladesh will have to take initiative for dialog with India, Nepal and Bhutan to revitalize the SAARC spirit for region cooperation for the benefit of all regional countries. 34. Confidence building among the co-basin countries is very much required just to make a beginning. So far SAARC has done little to promote economic cooperation among all regional countries.
It may be reformed along the European Economic Community (EEC) line, so that it can herald a new area of development in that whole of South Asia through a real regional cooperation. And we hope this treaty of bilateralism will surely enhance and contribute to such regional relationship. Conclusion 35. It is officially recognized that there are about fifty four common rivers between Bangladesh and India. Among them are the Ganges. Brahmaputra’s and the Meghna, three major rivers of the world. The Ganges has been flowing through Bangladesh from time immemorial. The leaves and livelihoods of its people, together with flora and fauna, have been conditioned by the waters of this great rivers.
Amidst of all facilities the river plays a determining rule in maintaining the ecological balance of the country. But the historical balance has been severely disrupted by substantial unilateral upstream division of Ganges water at Farakka by India. Since the commissioning of the Barrage at Farakka, there have been few short term water sharing agreements. However, the last one ran out in 1989. Since then, in the last decade an abrupt change, due to the scarcity of surface water, is marked on the physical features, natural environment, economy and social life of Bangladesh. 36. The issue of Ganges water sharing was for long a thorny and sure political issue in the relationship between India and Bangladesh.
The adverse efforts ware devastating, which merit no compensation. At thus stage, a long term water sharing treaty for a period of treaty years, which was signed on December 12, 1996. is of paramount importance. The water that would be received through the treaty will not be enough to meet our all demands. But it will definitely show down the pace of adverse ecological imbalance. 37. We must find out means to make the optimal use of this limited water for this the foremost requirement is a well thought out National water policy formulation. Some barrages may be constructed to preserve and use this limited water during our need in the dry season. Ganges Barrage near Pangsha, is already under study.
The treaty enabled us to get a concert of World Bank finance of Tk. 7,000 corer. This barrage if implemented, will likely to have multidimensional contribution to our economic progress. This will facilities the steady function of the G-K project, removal of silt from the Gorai and thus ensure the functional efficiency of the industries in greater Khulna, save the Sundarbans from salinity etc. In addition this Barrage will definite improve the socio -economic life of the people through generating and providing hydro powers to the area. 38. Till now the treaty has become a landmark in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. It brought in the solution to the most contentions issue.
So, we can be optimistic and hope that with our cordial efforts snow of the other issues will meet in equal pace. The potential dispute of other common rivers must not be ignored. Exchange of data on nine rivers have already taken place. These also merit immediate amicable solution. Efforts should be taken to maximize benefits on a basin-wide approach. 39. The past is bitter, now we have to put our best effort and wait and se, how this treaty stands the test of time. Efforts need also to make regional cooperation among the co-basin countries. Bangladesh need to take initiative for dialogues with India, Bhutan and Nepal to deal with the issues on regional basis. This treaty can act as a basic for the development of future regional relationship.
It should be in the strategy of Bangladesh to explore the role of SAARC in harnessing the vast water resources of the river system of Himalayan motherhood. Recommendation 40. India and Bangladesh are close door neighbors and much interaction between the two is visible in the political, socio-economic and cultural fields. The treaty on water sharing makes a new era in their relationship. This should act as an example in arriving at amicable solutions to other outstanding bilateral issues. This as well may aid in the growth of regional bondage. Followings are the recommendations in this regards : a. Both countries must adhere to various agreements, negations and resolution of meetings.
In the past India’s big brotherly attitude gave us bitter experience. So at the earliest opportunity time Bangladesh should get the Rectification of the treaty through UN General Assembly. b. As the most contentions issue could be settled amicably, so the other bilateral issues need to be brought on the table by Bangladesh for immediate solution. c. India has completed the detailed design and is planning tie take up a projects of another down in Tipaimuk, Monipur Bangladesh must immediately take up steps to jointly examine the impact of Tipaimuk dam. d. The possibility of augmentation from Nepal is enormous. The Kosi high dam is under active consideration of India and Nepal.
Bangladesh should take up Kosi dam project with India and Nepal, as a priority for regional cooperation along with other high dams in Nepal. The huge hydropower potentials of the Himalayan rivers, it utilized, surely will bring regional benefit. The mountain sites of Nepal can also generate power to meet the energy needs of the region. The Ganges-Brahmaputra has approximately 10 percent of the worlds total hidel power potential. e. Diplomatic efforts should be made to solve various disputes and issues in a correct way to the neighboring countries. It is to be always remembered that solution can’t be achieved by emotions and blaming a powerful neighbor, it is to be solved diplomatically and politically with good gestures in the hope of strength ending bondage of friendship.