Seminar on 'River, Environment, Law and State' held at DU
'Gyantaposh Abdurrazzaq Foundation' organised their 5th seminar on 'River, Environment, Law and State' at the Sirazul Islam Lecture Theater of University of Dhaka on July 27, 2019.
Professor Dr Asif Nazrul was the keynote speaker while Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Executive Head of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), presided over the session. Dr Ahrar Ahmed, Director General of the foundation, initiated the session with his welcome speech in the presence of distinguished guests.
Dr Nazrul, currently the sole PhD expert of the country on International River Law, expressed his delight in having the opportunity to address the issue in a public forum after half a decade. While describing the historical evolution of the international river laws, he shed light on how the conflicting interests of the upstream v downstream states were reflected in shaping the laws. Whereas the earlier river treaties were focused on equitable utilization of waters, the recent trend has been more accommodating of environmental concerns along with some human rights dimensions. Dr Nazrul expressed his utter frustration over the non-ratification of Bangladesh to the Convention despite his persistent advocacy for over a decade.
Finally, commenting on the 1996 Ganges Treaty between Bangladesh and India, Dr Nazrul observed that though politicians chant it as a great achievement, in reality, the treaty falls into the worst category of river sharing agreements as it does not comply with any international standard from 'equitable utilization' to 'no harm principle'. Instead of sharing the whole river under international laws, the treaty only provides for sharing the residue waters of Farakka barrage. He also blamed our powerful neighbour for not observing even the existing treaty provisions by unjust water distribution leading Bangladesh to dire consequences.
The lecture was followed by a question answering session conducted by Syeda Rizwana Hasan. The program chair ended the session with her concluding remarks.
Event covered by Md. Naimul Hasan, Lecturer of Law at Uttara University