Monday, July 27, 2009

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.

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