Opposition from Bangladesh Halts Power Projects in Meghalaya
Bangladesh has opposed construction of two hydro-based power projects along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya until India and Bangladesh signs a water sharing agreement. Meghalaya power minister Clement Marak told the assembly on Wednesday that Bangladesh has said the construction of the two dams will have adverse impact on Bangladesh sides, while replying to the Call Attention motion moved by Shillong West legislator Paul Lyngdoh.
Quoting a letter from the Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) member to India’s union ministry of water resources, Marak said the letter claims that the two dams may cause adverse impacts on various sectors in Bangladesh due to change of the course of the two rivers. Notably, Meghalaya is in the process of constructing dams on two rivers flowing to Bangladesh – the Mawphu dam across river Umiew and Myntdu dam across river Myntdu – in East Khasi Hills and West Jaintia Hills districts respectively.
During his reply, Marak revealed that the JRC member had also requested not to proceed with the construction of two dams until impact assessment on various sectors have been jointly conducted and water sharing agreements of the two common rivers have been signed between the two countries.
Even as Marak claims that there will not be any diversion of rivers, he informed that there was no further communication from the center since January 7 with regards to offer of stake made to Bangladesh. Marak said the state-owned Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL) which is generating power from the Myntdu Hydel power project informed that the Ministry of Water Resources that the project will not impound water as it is a Run-of-River (RoR) scheme.
Marak also said that the Mawphu hydel project, undertaken by the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO), has also indicated the same in their pre-feasibility report.
“The project shall utilize mostly the available discharge in the river, drawn through a 4.07 km-long tunnel to the power house generating 362.53 million units, meeting the same river downstream through a 45 meter-long channel,” Marak said.
Earlier, Paul Lyngdoh had said that Bangladesh’s opposition to the power projects would deprive power starved Meghalaya of its potential in the hydro-power sector besides losing a lot of time in resolving the issue. Lyngdoh said the state’s potential hinges a lot on the two projects along the international border and urged the state government to ‘iron out’ and respond to the issue in a way that Meghalaya does not lose the opportunity to harness the power potential.