Withdrawal of 34 illegal Indian pumps from Feni River demanded
RAMGARH, KHAGRACHHARI, Oct 30: Bangladesh has signed an agreement with India in Delhi recently considering the humanitarian side of India's demand to withdraw 1.82 cusecs of water from the Feni River for Tripura Sabrum Drinking Water Project following a meeting in ministerial level between the two countries held in Dhaka in 2010.
However, the Indian government has been lifting 50 cusecs of water daily from the Feni River by 34 high powered electric low-lift pumps illegally from Lacharipara of Ramgarh in Khagrachhari District to Olinagar border point of Mirsarai Upazila in Chattogram District since 1982.
As a result, thousands of villages in Ramgarh and Matiranga, and Bhujpur of Uttar Fatikchhari Upazila and Mirsarai in Chattogram become like desert in the dry season, and the irrigation activities of Muhuri Project, which depends on Feni River water, are being hampered.
In this connection, a team of BGB led by Commander (In-Charge) of Guimara BGB Sector Lt Colonel Zahidur Rashid, PSC, sent a formal letter to India's BSF led by DIG Jadav Singh on September 27, 2016 asking not to lift water from the river and establish new pump.
While visiting, it was found that India has been irrigating vast areas in Tripura State by lifting water from the Feni River with 34 low-lift pumps. In this connection, pump houses have been set up with distance of 40 to 50 gauzes from each. Drain has been made by cutting the bank of the Feni River, where green colour pipes have been installed. To divert people's attention, BSF has set up outpost where they patrol regularly.
Meanwhile, the Feni River becomes waterless in dry season for lifting of water. Though about eight to nine lakh hectares of land are targeted to bring under cultivation in Matiranga and Ramgarh upazilas of Khagrachhari, Misarai Upazila of Chattogram, and Chhagalnaiya and Sonagazi upazilas of Feni, only half of the total targeted land can be cultivated in dry season.
Sources said Feni River is 116-km long and about 70 km goes through Bangladesh-India border.
A five-member representative team led by Chief Engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), south-eastern region, Md Ismail Hossen visited Dolbari area in Tripura of India on March 5, 2012. At that time, Chief Engineer of Water Resource Management Department in Tripura State Tapan Lod and other officials informed about their project to the Bangladeshi delegates.
On September 27, 2016, Commander (In-Charge) of Guimara BGB Sector Lt Colonel Zahidur Rashid PSC, along with BWDB Executive Engineer in Chattogram KM Julfiqar Tarek, had a meeting with BSF DIG in Sabrum Jadav Singh.
According to the meeting sources, setting up any structure within 150 gauzes inside border area is illegal. But, India is lifting water from different points by the pumps. BGB submitted a letter to BSF asking to stop lifting water and establishing any new pump house beside the Feni River.
A BWDB officer of Khagrachhari said, India is violating the border law and illegally lifting water from the Feni River. When BWDB took steps to install pumps on Bangladesh side, BSF objected to the move.
He also said, as Bangladesh has agreed to give 1.82 cusecs of water to India, they should remove those 34 illegal pumps.
It may be mentioned that the Feni River originated in Bhagabantila of Matiranga Upazila in Khagrachhari. However, India has been claiming for long that the river originated in their country.
According to experts, people of hilly areas use the water of hill streams, rivers, canals and sources. As Bangladesh has agreed to give 1.82 cusecs of water to India, they should remove the illegal 34 pumps.