India set to choke Gidari river

Indian workers building the barrage take a break under a shed. Photo: Star

Indian workers building the barrage take a break under a shed. Photo: Star

India is building a barrage on the Gidari river, just 400 metres upstream from the no man’s land at Putibari village of Aditmari upazila in Lalmonirhat, to divert its water for irrigation.
The 600 metres long and 25 metres wide structure has been under construction for the last two months and earth filling work there has been completed. Once built, it would seriously affect water flow in Bangladesh.
India will divert the river water setting up regulators to irrigate cropland and it has already dug canals across Indian villages Daribash, Jaridharla and Nagortari for this purpose, sources said.
Border Guard Bangladesh issued a protest when India started building the barrage. Durgapur BGB Camp commander Subedar Shamsul Alam said, “As the Indian Border Security Force [BSF] didn’t respond to our protest, we informed our battalion commanding officer of the matter and he has conveyed it to the higher authorities concerned.”
Farmers of Putibari, Dighaltari, Durgapur and Namatari villages fear that once the barrage is built, their crops would go without water during the dry season and their villages would be flooded when the barrage releases water during the rainy season.
At least 800 acres of cropland in Putibari, Dighaltari, Durgapur and Namatari villages would be facing drought and at least 500 families affected directly, said Ashraful Islam, a farmer of Putibari.
“We have been obtaining great production using irrigation water from the Gidari and we are mostly dependent on our agriculture,” said farmer Iskat Ali of the same village.
Al-Mamun, sub-divisional engineer of Water Development Board in Lalmonirhat, too said four bordering villages would be flooded during the rainy season and once a year they would face desert-like situation if India completed the barrage.

He said after seeing the barrage construction with binoculars, they had sent a letter to the Joint Rivers Commission in Dhaka last week.
However, Mir Sazzad Hossain, member of Joint Rivers Commission, on Sunday said he knew about the matter but his office had not received any letter regarding the matter.
“Once we get the letter from the Water Development Board or Border Guard Bangladesh, we will take up the matter and protest through the foreign ministry,” he said.

Source: The Daily Star