RAJSHAHI, Nov 22 (BSS): A large number of people at a human chain have called for immediate implementation of the Ganges Barrage Project and North Rajshahi Irrigation Project to protect country's south-western region, including the Sundarbans.
They viewed that proposed Ganges Barrage will be a blessing for Bangladesh since the country is a low riparian area facing water-related problems.
About US$ 4 billion is needed to implement the Ganges Barrage Project, but the annual incremental benefit of the project will be Tk 73.40 billion, which means the cost of barrage project will be returned within five years, they claim.
Godagari Nagorik Committee (GNC), a social organisation, arranged the one-hour programme at Daingpara Crossing under Godagari Upazila of the district putting forward the demand today.
With GNC President Prof Shanta Kumar Mazumder in the chair, General Secretary of Rajshahi Raksha Sangram Parishad Jamat Khan, college teachers Abdur Rahman and Rabiul Islam, journalists Jamil Ahmed and Ashraful Haque, freedom fighter Golam Mostofa and General Secretary of Jatiya Adibashi Parishad Bimal Chandra Rajoad spoke on the occasion.
According to the feasibility study, once the project is implemented, agricultural production in the Ganges dependent area will increase while additional paddy production would be about 2.6 million tonnes minimising the crop damage area and loss of paddy significantly. Additional fish production would be about 0.24 tonnes, the speakers said.
The increased upstream water flow will reduce the rate of siltation in the river system in the Southwest region. About 33 per cent area of the Sundarbans would become moderately low saline zones and about 11,000 hectares of land in the Sundarbans would become low salinity zone.
About benefits of the project, Jamat Khan said agricultural production will increase in the region and its one-third of population will be benefited economically and environmentally from the project.
He said Bangladesh will not face any trouble in getting equity share of the trans-boundary river water as per the Ganges Water Treaty signed between Bangladesh and India in 1996. Bangladesh will be benefited from the project in all aspects - salinity will be reduced considerably and all dead rivers of the region will be recharged after implementation of the project.
The government has already completed the feasibility study and design of the proposed 2.1km long Ganges Barrage Project at Pangsha of Rajbari, some 98km downstream from the Farakka Barrage built in the Paschimbanga state of India.
The proposed project has a reservoir to augment the flow of water and its equal distribution, in both dry and wet season, over the Ganges dependent area. The project will meet the demand of the Ganges water for agriculture, fisheries, ecosystems and navigation, Jamat Khan added.