Monday, July 27, 2009

Confluence Claims Unity - An article from - on Tipaimukh Dam project

Confluence Claims Unity

Anti-dam activists in Bangladesh and India have come together to protest against the Tipaimukh dam in Manipur, reports TERESA REHMAN

IN MANIPUR’S HMAR dialect, the name for Tipaimukh is ‘Ruonglevaisuo’, meaning ‘the confluence of two rivers’. The two-decade-long struggle against the proposed 1,500 MW Tipaimukh dam project, to be located 500 metres downstream of the confluence of the rivers Trivia and Barak, in Manipur’s Churachandpur district has brought about another union – that of anti-dam activists of India and Bangladesh. Activists from both countries, who are regularly in touch through emails and meetings held in Bangladesh, are extremely sceptical of the visit made to the controversial crossborder site by a 10-member Bangla deshi delegation of lawmakers and water resources experts in July this year.

According to activists, this first-time visit to the dam site by a Bangladesh team could become a turning point. If construed as a green signal for the dam from the Bangladesh side, it could overturn the long-drawn people’s movement against the dam. Activists from both countries came together at the National Tipaimukh Dam Conference (NTDC) organised in Bangladesh this year by an environmental NGO called the Angikar Bangladesh Foundation and are now planning a concerted effort to fight the 163 metre high dam.

“Ecology doesn’t observe national boundaries. Pakistan and India haven't abrogated the 1960 Indus Treaty despite three wars,” says Darryl D’Monte, Presi - dent, International Federation of Envi - ronmental Journalists. Commending activists who are planning to form a joint co-ordinating committee to oppose the Tipaimukh project, D’Monte says, “It makes great sense for environmentalists to join hands across borders — something that politicians seem incapable of doing, because they always see opposing, rather than common, interests”.

Ramananda Wangkheirakpam, a coordinator of the Manipur-based Citizen's Concern for Dams and Development (CCDD) told TEHELKA that activists’ main worry is that the two countries may come to a hurried water-and-powersharing pact, without taking into account the real issues: reduced water flow in the Barak river, destruction of wetlands and farmlands, increased seismicity and destruction of tribal territories in Manipur.

“We would like to meet the team from Bangladesh and apprise them of what is happening to other rivers in the Northeast,” says Wangkheirakpam. Identified as India's ‘future powerhouse’, the Northeast is the site of 168 proposed large dams, with a cumulative capacity of 63,328 MW.

Activists in Bangladesh draw lessons from the disastrous effect of the Farakka Barrage, built in 1974. Bangladeshi activist Habib Siddiqui refers to the November 1999 Report made by the South Asian Network on Dams, River and People to the World Commission on Dams, which has details about the massive damage the Barrage caused in Malda upstream and Murshidabad downstream.

Siddiqui feels that while the initiative to send a delegation is encouraging, it would have better if it included some technical experts as well as members of the opposition party, the BNP. Siddiqui told TEHELKA, “If this dam is constructed, Bangladesh's ecology, agriculture and environment will be severely affected. It must be resisted.”

Meanwhile, the project has changed hands yet again. On July 15, the Centre replaced power giant North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) with the National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) as the implementing agency. The project will now be a joint venture between NHPC (69 per cent), the Shimla-based Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (26 per cent) and the Manipur Government (5 per cent). Earlier with the Brahmaputra Board, the project was awarded to NEEPCO in January 2003.

The proposed mega-dam will be the largest hydroelectric project in Eastern India. The project will have a 6 X 250 MW powerhouse. It will take at least 12 years to complete and will submerge 309 sq. km of land. Its consequences have alarmed anti-dam activists. Wangkheirakpam is firm, “We want the project scrapped.”

Activist mohammad Hilaluddin of Angikar thinks that the Bangladesh delegation’s visit highlights the complexity of Bangladesh-India relations. “In April 2009, the Indian foreign secretary visited Bangladesh, which was then reeling from the BDR mutiny and pushed the contentious issue of the Tipaimukh dam construction upon the newly-elected government,” he says. The dam-building madness prevailing in the policy-making centres of China and India, says Hilaluddin, must be replaced by collective efforts to prevent a water war.


India's Hydro-Electric Project At Tipaimukh And The Hot Debate In Bangladesh by Meer Husain, USA

A Response to Professor Bijon Sarma

We have already responded to Prof. Sarma's above mentioned article regarding the dam and earthquake issue. I found his article is based on poor judgement and violates the most basic principals of the geological, hydrological, hydrogeological, sedimentological, geochemical, structural/tectonics, engineering/environmental geological fields, demographic and socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh.

Prof. Sarma's failure to explain the following points (listed below from his article) regarding the Tipaimukh dam based on sound data and evidence will misguide the people of Bangladesh. However, if Prof. Sarma feels that he is a credible and knowledgeable professional in collecting and interpreting geological data, we will certainly be interested in examining his view points regarding the Tipaimukh dam issue. We want to know from him a professional and sound scientific explanation based on reliable data and evidence of the Tipaimukh dam related issues that he mentioned in his article.

Prof. Sarma may also review the article entitled Construction of Tipaimukh dam-A Threat to the national interest of Bangladesh,recently published in the NFB for a general idea about the advantages and disadvantages of hydro-electric dams. We would appreciate it if Prof. Sarma can offer an explanation defending his position that the disadvantages listed in the article will not be caused by the Tipaimukh dam. We are interested in sound scientific data based explanations.

Prof. Sarma Wrote in the above referenced article:

DAM AND RIVER WATER FLOW : Some people opine that the dam would reduce the flow of water in Barak river and its descending branches in Bangladesh. The fact is, after a dam for hydroelectricity project is commissioned, the authority would have to release all excess water from the dam for the safety of the dam and smooth running of the generators. So, it does not reduce water flow. The dam however, can give additional advantage of flood control by holding excess water in the rainy season and increase water flow in the winter by slowly releasing that water.

DAM AND SILTATION : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create siltation in the rivers of Bangladesh. Such statements may be given by people lacking in intelligence. In a hydro-electric project only silt-free water is fed into the turbines below, and the over-flowing water (spillway) on top cannot contain silt.

DAM AND EARTHQUAKE : Some leaders have opined that the dam would create earth quake due to weight of water or for drying of rivers. All these are wrong statement. Those who have little knowledge of geology and earth science know how huge and mighty the earth's tectonic plates are, and in comparison how tiny or insignificant the reservoir or weight of the water in it are.

DAM AND SALINITY : It is unfortunate that some of the leaders opine that the dam would result in increase of salinity in the region near the mouth of the river. Their ideas are erroneous. The salinity at the river mouth among many other factors depends upon the velocity of water emerging out through the river. In the rainy season it is pushed away due to rainy water from the origin and catchment area. The possibility of the same to move up may take place during the winter season when the flow is feeble. The release of water from the reservoir can improve the situation.

DAM AND DESTABILIZING THE NATURE : Some people always think that any new project in the nature is harmful because it destabilizes the balance of nature. It is well known that whenever the original setup of the nature is interfered, there may some problems. However, intelligent and sincere men have always been able to solve those. Only the fools may shout for keeping everything in nature unchanged for the sake of stability. Had the intelligent men followed the principle of the fools, then the world would have still remained in the same primitive state. In case Kaptai dam was not constructed at the cost of many things including miseries for the tribal people, neither Bangladesh would enjoy the huge benefit of power nor the region would become free from the propensity of flood.

On July 24, 2009. in the article Danger of Earthquakes to the Tipaimukh dam and it's adjoining areas in Bangladesh and India ( http//, we explained Prof. Sarma's misconception and misstatements about the dam and earthquake issue. We hope Prof. Sarma and other proponents of the Tipaimukh dam will consider this issue before hastily entering the Tipaimukh project. If they can produce sound data supporting the position that the Tipaimukh dam will not cause any harm to the health and safety of the people, ecosystem and environment of Bangladesh and it's adjacent areas, we would gladly accept their explanation.

The Jatia Sangsad Team is planning to visit the Tipaimukh dam site soon. After visiting it, we would request them to visit the Zipingpu dam site in China and it's earthquake affected areas to witness the damage caused by the earthquake and evaluate the danger of earthquakes to the Tipaimukg dam and it's adjacent areas in Bangladesh. Besides the Jatia Sangsad team, the scholars, scientists, engineers, journalists, environmental activists and political leaders of Bangladesh should also visit the Zipingpu dam site in China that triggered the earthquake of 8.0 M, which caused the death of 70,000 and the injury of 375,000 and left 29,000 missing and 5 million people homeless on May 12, 2008. The dam was also damaged by the earthquake.

Meer Husain, P.G.
Environmental geologist
Kansas, USA.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Protect people and nature from Tipaimukh Dam by Dr Nargis Banu

New Age, July 15, 2009

BANGLADESH is the lowest riparian country of more than 53 trans-boundary rivers. Four-fifths of Bangladesh is made up of the combined delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Barak river systems – one of the largest river basins in the world. India has 400 storage dams of various sizes and the major reservoirs have a total capacity of 2,221 billion cubic feet. Upstream diversion due to the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges in India has adversely affected the hydrology, river morphology, agriculture, domestic and municipal water supply, fishery, forestry, wildlife, industry, navigation, public health and biodiversity in north-western districts of Bangladesh. Now India has started another intervention on the international river Barak at Tipaimukh and will construct a dam at Fulertal (100 kilometres downstream from Tipaimukh) by 2012. This dam construction originally started in 2007 but had to be postponed due to protest by the surrounding villagers and pressure from international bodies. With the construction of Tipaimukh dam, India would be diverting the Barak’s water flow from its north to its south and east. It will have adverse impacts on nature and livelihood in the north-eastern districts in Bangladesh. The Barak feeds not only the Surma-Kushiara in Sylhet but also flows into the Meghna, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh.
The proposed Tipaimukh dam is a 390m long and 162.5m high earthen core rock filled dam at downstream of the confluence of Barak and Tuivai rivers near Tipaimukh village in Manipur state of India. To produce an estimated 1,500MW electric power, the dam will permanently submerge an area of 275.50 square kilometres in India. The dam will establish a reservoir behind the dam that will catch water in the rainy season and release it in the dry season. A list of benefits such as high-class tourism, free power sharing, resettlement and rehabilitation package has been offered by the Indian project proponent (North East Electric Power Corporation) to appease the people of Manipur state.
The geology on Tipaimukh and its adjoining areas are basically made up of the Surma Group of rocks that are well characterised by folds and faults with regional strike. All these faults and fractures can cause localised shifting or deflection at the confluence of the rivers Barak and Tuivai. Such faults are potentially active and may be focal and/or epicentres of future earthquakes. The north-eastern part of India is one of the highest earthquake-prone areas in the world due to its tectonic setting. The Tipaimukh dam site has been identified at the highest-risk seismically hazardous zone. Analysis of earthquake epicentres of the Tipaimukh dam site reveals hundreds of earthquakes in the past 100-200 years. It is found that within 100km radius of Tipaimukh two earthquakes of +7M magnitude have taken placed in the past 150 years, the last in 1957 at an aerial distance of about 75km from the dam site. The expert appraisal committee of India revealed that the design of the dam contains many errors, and omissions, and falls short of compliance of standards set by the scientific and academic community in India and the world.
As part of the project planning process, India conducted detailed studies, completed the final design and environment impact assessment without consultation with Bangladesh as a downstream stakeholder. The Indian government has not clearly stated the amounts of water that will be stopped or diverted with the construction of the Tipaimukh dam. About 7 to 8 per cent of the total water of Bangladesh is obtained through the river Barak to Surma-Kushiara river basins. Agriculture, irrigation navigation, drinking water supply, fisheries, wildlife in numerous haors (wetlands) and low-lying areas in entire Sylhet division, some areas of Comilla and Mymensingh districts, and some peripheral areas of Dhaka division depends on this water.
Along with the people of India, civil society groups, government and non-governmental organisations in Bangladesh have protested against the downstream impacts of Tipaimukh dam. The following adverse impacts on nature and livelihood in Bangladesh have been identified:

Flooding pattern
The erosion just downstream of the Tipaimukh Dam would be excessively high and this erosion would continue as long as hundred kilometres downstream or more in the Surma-Kushiara system. 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 Kushiara. Bed level would rise and will induce the average monsoon flood to become moderate to severe flood in the Surma-Kushiara floodplain. On the other hand, Sylhet and Moulvibazar have unique natural monsoon-flooding pattern.
In post-dam scenario, 30,123 hectares of inundated areas in Sylhet and 5,220 hectares in Moulvibazar would be reduced due to change of flooding pattern. About 71 per cent of the upper Surma-Kushiara basin area would no longer be flooded. The Kushiara would cut its connection with its right bank floodplain for around 65 kilometres and this part will become ‘reservoir river’ rather than a most valuable ‘floodplain river’. The Kushiara-Bardal haor (wetland) on the left bank of the Kushiara would become completely dry. The Kawardighi haor (wetland) would also lose around 2,979 ha (26 per cent).

Hydrology and wetlands
The Tipaimukh dam would lead to hydrological drought and environmental degradation. According to the Institute of Water Modelling, an autonomous research institute in Bangladesh, once the Tipaimukh dam is fully functional, average annual monsoon inflow from the Barak to the Surma-Kushiyara-Meghna system would be reduced around 10 per cent in June, 23 per cent in July, 16 per cent in August and 15 per cent in September. Water level would fall by more than a metre on average in July on the Kushiara and 0.75 metre on the Surma. During a relatively drier monsoon year, the dam would have more impact on the availability of monsoon water in the Barak-Surma-Kushiara than the average annual monsoon year.

Groundwater and irrigation
Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies fed by the Barak for agricultural activities. The dam would cause the Surma and Kushiara to run dry from November to May. Shortage of water in these few months would decrease the boost of groundwater. Over the years this would lower the groundwater level, which in turn would affect all dugouts and shallow tube-wells. Agriculture dependent on both surface as well as groundwater would also be affected. Arable land will decrease and production of crops will fall, leading to an increase in poverty.
Biodiversity and ecology
ONE of the most serious and least studied consequences of large dams is the long-term health impacts due to drastic changes in the ecological balance, displacement and loss of livelihood and sudden alterations in the demographic character of the area. These factors have not been considered at all in the process of the Tipaimukh project planning phase. It is a well-known fact that the construction of dams invariably destroys the natural riverine ecosystem. As a result, it affects the habitat of rare and endangered flora and fauna in wetland. Construction of a high dam will obstruct the migratory path of fish and other aquatic fauna, prevent the exchange of micronutrients and silt between the upper and lower reaches of a river and have an overall adverse affect on the riverine food chain. Above impacts would destroy the natural integrity of the ecosystem, losing riverine habitat and species, and a lack of enrichment of land with the nutrient-full silt. This would lead to the ultimate decline in the natural productivity of the two most abundant resources of Bangladesh – land and water.

Dam break and human catastrophes
A detailed study by the World Dam Commission published in 2000 states that the adverse impacts of any large dams are irreversible for the lower riparian region. A study on the trends of earthquakes reveals that they mostly take place in regions which have experienced earthquakes in the past. If the Tipaimukh Dam were to break, its ‘billions’ of impounded cubic metres of water will cause catastrophic floods because of its colossal structure. The faults and fractures around the Tipaimukh Dam axis belong to the category that may undergo strike-slip and extensional movements. If the dam axis is displaced by a few centimetres, serious damage may occur causing a dam disaster leading to huge loss of lives and property.

Water quality
The erosion and sedimentation just downstream of the Tipaimukh Dam would be excessively high and would continue as long as over 600 kilometres downstream in Bangladesh. This excessive erosion downstream of the dam would increase the overall siltation and water turbidity in the Surma-Kushiara system. These will adversely affect the water quality of the entire Surma-Kushiara-Meghna system in Bangladesh.
Climate change
The Tipaimukh dam will permanently submerge an area of 275.50 square kilometres in India. The dam will have warming impact due to methane degassing from the reservoir. Mass human displacement, land use change on macro and micro climate and carbon emissions of large dam construction itself is enough to reconsider constructing of Tipaimukh dam.

Violation of laws and agreement
International rivers are naturally well designated and they flow through many countries. There are international rules and conventions that guide modes of sharing waters of such rivers between countries in the riparian regions. The UN International Water Management Convention 1997 adopted two key issues, in gist stated by two words – ‘no harm’ and ‘equitable sharing’. To elaborate the implications of the two set of terms, one can safely state that the upper riparian country must not do harm to lower riparian country by withdrawing or diverting normal natural flow of water. If any such withdrawal and diversion is at all to be done, such mode must have prior sanction of the lower riparian country subject to the condition of mutually agreed equitable sharing.
Under this convention, hiding any information by the upper riparian countries about the use of common rivers is considered as violation of the UN convention. The International Convention on Joint River Water also states that without the consent of the downstream river nation, no single country alone can control the multi-nation rivers. But India does not care about these international laws despite being a signatory to this convention. The Tipaimukh Dam project was entirely developed and approved without informing the government of Bangladesh or involving its people in any meaningful exercise to assess the downstream impacts of the dam. Bangladesh was not invited to participate, fully and actively, in the decision-making process as a key stakeholder. This is clearly a gross violation of co-riparian rights of Bangladesh.
The unilateral construction of Tipaimukh dam by India on this international river Barak is a violation of UN Convention on the Law of Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses. At a Joint River Commission meeting in September 2005, India formally assured Bangladesh that they would not divert any water for their irrigation project. If India constructs the dam without the consent of Bangladesh, it will also be violation of article 9 of the Bangladesh-India Ganges Water Sharing Treaty 1996. Interestingly, a dam across the Barak was first mooted in 1928. Yet, India has failed to produce all the necessary data and research on the impacts of the dam on the people and the environment of both countries.
Economists have estimated that Bangladesh will lose up to $32 billion in a year due to the Tipaimukh dam construction. Taking into account the above impacts and recently developing objections in the both countries, the following actions should be undertaken to reach an amicable solution of this dispute:
Indian government needs to undertake a fresh review despite advancing the dam construction works. Invite Bangladesh to take part in the whole decision making process before it is too late.
India must provide access to all technical information (design, drawing, environment impact assessment) to Bangladesh to measure the total impacts of the Tipaimukh Dam on Bangladesh.
A joint team should be formed to study the adverse ecological and environmental impacts on both countries.
Bangladesh must ratify the UN convention as soon as possible in order to take advantage and for it to be effective.
As the proposed site is one of the highest potential earthquake areas in the world, so impacts from its tectonic setting risk must need to be investigated seriously.
Draw the international community’s (Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNEP) attention to save our people and nature of Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh government, political leaders, civil society bodies, environmentalists need to join under a common umbrella to stop India constructing the Tipaimukh Dam.
The World Commission on Dams report has shown that Indian dams do more harm than help. Therefore, as per the report’s recommendation consider replacing dam-based hydroelectricity with a ‘run-of-the-river’ type project.
Abridged from a paper presented at a seminar at the Australian National University on July 3. Dr Nargis A Banu is an environmental scientist with Sydney Water Corporation, Australia.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Construction of Tipaimukh dam - A Threat to the National Interest of Bangladesh by Meer Husain


Monday July 13 2009 15:06:10 PM BDT

The govt. of Bangladesh should also form a national and international team consisting of geologists, engineers, biologists, Agriculture scientists, environmentalists, lawyers, economist etc. from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirate, Kuwait, Jordan, Malayasia, Nepal, Japan, German, U.K., USA, France and other nations to examine the project. This effort will help to solve the problems of the Tipaimukh hydro-electric project.

T.C. Borgohain, executive director of the North Eastern Electric Power Corp and developer of the Rs.81.38 billion ($1.7 billion) project stated in the Thaindian News in an article entitled “Manipur dam will not harm Bangladesh, Says India� on July 2, 2009, that “India will not do anything that harms the interests of its neighbouring country.�

Please read the article at:

Although Mr. Borgohain's statement sounds hopeful, however numerous questions remain. What scientific data has India presented proving that the Tipaimukh dam would not do any harm to the public health, ecosystem and environment of Bangladesh? When did they complete their study and why did they neglect to share the report of their study with the govt of Bangladesh? How might the people of Bangladesh be benefited from this project? If the project is being developed for the betterment of both Bangladesh and India, why has the govt. of India started the construction of the project without the approval of the govt. of Bangladesh? If India has good intentions, why did the Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh aggressively state, in response to opposition of the dam, that“No int’l law can stop Tipai Dam?�

Regarding the concern of environmentalists and water scientists of Bangladesh about the Tipaimukh dam, Mr. Chakraborty also stated that "It is unfortunate that there are some so-called water experts who make comments without considering some of the issues. They are basically attempting to poison the minds of friendly people of Bangladesh against India."

We fully disagree with Mr. Chakraborty, because Bangladesh is the top most secular nation in the world. The water experts and environmentalists are the protectors of water resources of Bangladesh. If Mr. Chakraborty's above statement is the word of the govt. of India, then it appears that the govt of India does not respect the people and experts of Bangladesh. The govt. of India must understand that the people of Bangladesh have the right to know about the advantages and disadvantages of the Tipaimukh dam,and the govt. of India has an obligation to provide them with correct information.

The govt. of Bangladesh should also form a national and international team consisting of geologists, engineers, biologists, Agriculture scientists, environmentalists, lawyers, economist etc. from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Arab Emirate, Kuwait, Jordan, Malayasia, Nepal, Japan, German, U.K., USA, France and other nations to examine the project. This effort will help to solve the problems of the Tipaimukh hydro-electric project.

In the article “Construction of Tipaimukh dam and Environmental disasters in Bangladesh� we raised many questions about the adverse impacts of the Tipaimukh hydro-electric dam in Bangladesh. Can Mr. Borgohain and the govt. of India solve these problems and what resources do they have (resources must be available in the probable affected areas before the construction of dam) for the protection of the people of the Surma and Meghna basins from the environmental disasters of the Tipaimukh dam?(Please see the problems that will cause environmental disasters in Bangladesh from the Tipaimukh dam at:( These problems are life threatening and must be examined by both Bangladesh's national experts and international experts. Water Resources Minister of Bangladesh Mr. Ramesh Chandra Sen has recently said that this dam could also benefit Bangladesh. If the project really does not do any harm to Bangladesh and if the dam has the capacity benefited the country without any environmental risks, then it may be accepted as a good project. But like all major projects, we can not allow the implementation of the Tipaimukh dam without thorough review and risk overlooking the dam's potential to devastate the environment of Bangladesh. listed the following advantages and disadvantages of the hydro-electric dam, but the question is which country would be benefited most? Will Bangladesh really be benefited from this risky project at all? If so and how? The Bangladeshi and Indian govt should publish their findings of the project after visiting the site. They must examine the advantages and disadvantages listed below in the context of the geo-political, socio-economic, food sources and demographic conditions of the affected regions of Bangladesh and the Tipaimukh hydro-electric dam. This will help the people of Bangladesh and the visiting team to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the Tipaimukh dam for Bangladesh and India.

We also believe that the opposition parties of the AL govt. should also independently analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the Tipaimukh project based on correct data and evidence. They should also share their findings with the govt. as soon as possible. We strongly believe that the people of Bangladesh will appreciate their positive steps. The prime minister Sheikh Hasina has recently said that her govt. would not approve the construction of the Tipaimukh dam against the national interest of Bangladesh. Therefore, the opposition parties should trust her and extend support to oppose the destructive potential of the Tipaimuck dam and unitedly protect the national interest of Bangladesh. They should also disagree with the govt. if their support of the dam is at the expense of the wellbeing of the people and environment of Bangladesh. It is important to note that the govt. and the opposition parties must present their evaluation report of the Tipaimukh project based on sound data and evidence. No one has presented or published any data based report yet about the impacts of the Tipaimukh dam in Bangladesh. The following advantages and disadvantages of the hydro-electric dam will help everyone as a guide to evaluate the impacts of the Tipaimukh dam in the context of the geo-political, demographic and socio-economic conditions of Bangladesh.

Advantages of Hydro-electric dam:

Once a dam is constructed, electricity can be produced at a constant rate.

• If electricity is not needed, the sluice gates can be shut, stopping electricity generation. The water can be saved for use another time when electricity demand is high. The build up of water in the lake means that energy can be stored until needed, when the water is released to produce electricity.

• Dams are designed to last many decades and so can contribute to the generation of electricity for many years / decades.

• The lake that forms behind the dam can be used for water sports and leisure / pleasure activities. Often large dams become tourist attractions in their own right.

• The lake's water can be used for irrigation purposes.

• When in use, electricity produced by dam systems do not produce green house gases. They do not pollute the atmosphere.

• Hydropower is a fueled by water, so it's a clean fuel source. Hydropower doesn't pollute the air like power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal, oil or natural gas.

• Hydropower is a domestic source of energy, produced locally near where it is needed.

• Hydropower relies on the water cycle, which is driven by the sun, thus it's a renewable power source so long as the rain keeps falling on the dam catchment area.

• Hydropower is generally available as needed; engineers can control the flow of water through the turbines to produce electricity on demand.

• Hydropower is not only a cleaner source of energy than oil but is it more cost effective as well. The most efficient coal burning plants are only able to convert around 50 percent of their energy into electricity, whereas modern day hydro power turbines convert up to 90 percent of their energy into electricity.

• Hydropower can cost less than a penny per kWh (Kilowatt Hour) compared to fossil fuel power plants at around 2 to 3 cents per kWh. That may not seem like a big difference, but when factored out over a year and the millions of kW h's Americans burn, it adds up to a huge savings.

• Hydropower plants also have an added bonus as they create recreational opportunities for people as well as electricity. Hydro power dams provide not only water-based activities, but since much of the surrounding land is public they also encourage numerous other outdoor activities aside from boating, skiing, fishing, and hunting.

• Hydropower plants provide benefits in addition to clean electricity. Impoundments hydro power creates reservoirs that offer a variety of recreational opportunities, notably fishing, swimming, and boating. Most hydro power installations are required to provide some public access to the reservoir to allow the public to take advantage of these opportunities. Other benefits may include water supply and flood control.

Disadvantages of Hydro-electric dam:

Dams are extremely expensive to build and must be built to a very high standard.

• The high cost of dam construction means that they must operate for many decades to become profitable.

• The flooding of large areas of land means that the natural environment is destroyed.

• People living in villages and towns that are in the valley to be flooded, must move out. This means that they lose their farms and businesses. In some countries, people are forcibly removed so that hydro-power schemes can go ahead.

• The building of large dams can cause serious geological damage. For example, the building of the Hoover Dam in the USA triggered a number of earth quakes and has depressed the earth's surface at its location.

• Although modern planning and design of dams is good, in the past old dams have been known to be breached (the dam gives under the weight of water in the lake). This has led to deaths and flooding.

• Dams built blocking the progress of a river in one country usually means that the water supply from the same river in the following country is out of their control. This can lead to serious problems between neighboring countries.

• Building a large dam alters the natural water table level. For example, the building of the Aswan Dam in Egypt has altered the level of the water table. This is slowly leading to damage of many of its ancient monuments as salts and destructive minerals are deposited in the stone work from 'rising damp' caused by the changing water table level

• Hydro power dams can damage the surrounding environment and alter the quality of the water by creating low dissolved oxygen levels, which impacts fish and the surrounding ecosystems. They also take up a great deal of space and can impose on animal, plant, and even human environments.

• Fish populations can be impacted if fish cannot migrate upstream past impoundments dams to spawning grounds or if they cannot migrate downstream to the ocean. Upstream fish passage can be aided using fish ladders or elevators, or by trapping and hauling the fish upstream by truck. Downstream fish passage is aided by diverting fish from turbine intakes using screens or racks or even underwater lights and sounds, and by maintaining a minimum spill flow past the turbine.

• Hydro power can impact water quality and flow. Hydro power plants can cause low dissolved oxygen levels in the water, a problem that is harmful to riparian (riverbank) habitats and is addressed using various aeration techniques, which oxygenate the water. Maintaining minimum flows of water downstream of a hydro power installation is also critical for the survival of riparian habitats.

• Hydro power plants can be impacted by drought. When water is not available, the hydro power plants can't produce electricity.

• New hydro power facilities impact the local environment and may compete with other uses for the land. Those alternative uses may be more highly valued than electricity generation. Humans, flora, and fauna may lose their natural habitat. Local cultures and historical sites may be flooded. Some older hydro power facilities may have historic value, so renovations of these facilities must also be sensitive to such preservation concerns and to impacts on plant and animal life.

• By 2020, it is projected that the percentage of power obtained from hydro power dams will decrease to around four percent because no new plants are in the works, and because more money is being invested in other alternative energy sources such as solar power and wind power.

It is also important to note that the people of Bangladesh have been suffering from numerous environmental disasters created by Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India. Please see the problems listed in the article “Construction of Tipaimukh dam and lessons from the Farakka, Teesta dams/barrages in India, and Marmot dam in Oregon, USA�(

How can the people of Bangladesh trust that India's Tipaimukh dam will not do any harm to the people of Bangladesh when they have been suffering from numerous environmental disasters for the last 35 years from these dams/barrages built by India? What reason do we have to believe that this dam is any different the numerous other dams which have deteriorated the Bangladesh government? Should the govt. of India not help Bangladesh to solve these problems on their own cost since their careless and miscalculated action created numerous environmental problems in the first place? India's continual construction of dams/barrages in the common rivers of Bangladesh and India violate international law regarding common rivers and threaten the liberty and safety of the people of Bangladesh.

If the govt. of India is not aware of the environmental disasters in Bangladesh caused by Farakka, Teesta and other dams/barrages built by India, then the govt. of India will be welcome to conduct a joint investigation with the Bangladesh govt. to determine the impacts of these dams/barrages and solutions to these problems in Bangladesh. If India perceives Bangladesh as a true ally and supports the well being of its neighbor, the govt. of India should prove their support through action. India's lack of solving environmental problems created by dams and barrages they created, will only lead Bangladesh to find new partners in the region for solving these problems and protecting other national interests of Bangladesh and oppose the actions of the government. The govt. of India should anticipate the environmental implications of their dam construction and abandon the unwise and risky Tipaimukh hydro-electric project to maintain a healthy and mutual cooperation for building and maintaining a prosperous future for all.


Meer Husain, P.G.
Environmental Geologist
Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment
Adjunct Faculty-Cowley County Community College
Team Leader-WATC International Arsenic, Water, Ecosystem and Environment Research Center
Wichita, Kansas, USA.
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