Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud on Thursday stressed strengthening regional collaboration among the South Asian countries to resolve the water problems of transboundary rivers.
“There is no way to resolve the water problems without establishing collaboration among Bangladesh, India and Bhutan,” he said, while addressing the opening session of a two-day workshop in the capital.
The Water Resources Minister said only collaboration with the countries of the region will pave the way to share water of the transboundary rivers and in managing the river systems.
Monash University, Australia arranged the workshop, titled ‘Developing regional collaboration in river basin management in response to climate change: The Teesta River Basin’ at Sonargaon Hotel.
Speaking on the occasion, Anisul Islam Mahmud said Bangladesh is built in the three river systems - Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.
“About 1.5 billion tonnes of silt is coming each year through the three rivers posing tremendous impacts on Bangladesh. These silts clog the riverbeds in Bangladesh accelerating river erosion,” he said.
The Minister said erosion of river banks creates social problems as it devours everything of local people, including their houses and properties, reducing them to paupers.
“About 30 percent of the city’s floating people come from erosion affected areas losing all their belongings…they become isolated from society and destitute.”
About the potential of power generation from common rivers, he said Bhutan has huge potential of generating hydroelectricity in the upper areas of transboundary rivers. “With the run of the rivers, you can generate power that is needed for the three countries - Bangladesh, India and Bhutan.”
About the Teesta water sharing issue, Anisul Islam said he is hopeful that the Teesta water problem will be resolved soon as the Indian Prime Minister earlier assured Bangladesh of resolving the longstanding issue.
He said water flow drastically declined in Teesta River this year and the rain pattern also changed in the catchment area of the river.
“Apart from irrigation, water flow is needed to keep the river alive,” he added.
Dr Paul McShane of Monash University and Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University also spoke at the session.