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Historic Farakka Day today

Published : Thursday, 16 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 463

Historic Farakka Day today

Historic Farakka Day today

Today, May 16, is the historic Farakka Long March day. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country, led by Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, took part in a long march from the historic Madrasa Maidan in Rajshahi towards Farakka Barrage on May 16, 1976. From that day on May 16 became known as Farakka Day.

They staged a long march on that day to protest against the natural calamities and sufferings of people in the country. Through this, the great leader Maulana Bhasani raised the issue with the international community. That is why, this day has become a source of inspiration for the deprived against exploitation, discrimination and injustice and for realizing their demands. It is to be noted that in order to make water crisis in Bangladesh, India has decided to build Farakka Barrage in Manoharpur of India that is 18 km from the border of Bangladesh.

 India started the construction of Farakka Barrage on 30 January 1961. The construction of the Barrage was completed in 1970. Then experimentally, India released some water. The Farakka Barrage was started in 1974 through the Mujib-Indira Pact. India built the Farakka Barrage and unilaterally withdrew water from its interior through feeder canals since 1976. As a result, Bangladesh has been deprived of its fair share of water as per demand since 1976. But before the construction of Farakka Barrage, Bangladesh used to get up to 40,000 cusecs of water from the river Padma even in the dry season of winter.

When the Awami League government came to power in 1996, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed a 30-year long-term agreement on the Ganges water issue. But within three months, the agreement was nullified by India. On March 27, 1997, Bangladesh received only 6,457 cusecs of water, the lowest flow since the Farakka Barrage was started. But according to the agreement, Bangladesh is supposed to get 34,500 cusecs of water. There was a guarantee clause in the 1977-Water Agreement. But since it was not included in the agreement, India was not obliged to give its fair share to Bangladesh. As a result, even if Bangladesh gets less water, it has no chance to protest. Apart from this, there is no opportunity to go for international arbitration in the agreement.

 However, India has accepted international arbitration in the Mahakali river agreement with Nepal. Therefore, the water agreement with India on the Ganges water is flawed and not in favour of Bangladesh. The success of this agreement is limited only in paper and pen. This is because there is no guarantee clause. In reality the result of the agreement is almost zero. According to the Water Development Board, according to the agreement from 2001 to 2015, Bangladesh has been getting water for only 3 years.

Historic Farakka Day today

Historic Farakka Day today

Due to the adverse effect of Farakka Barrage, all the major rivers of the country including Padma and Mahananda of Chapainawabganj have lost their navigability and become barren sand dunes. Due to the long term effects of Farakka Barrage, three other rivers including Padma, Mahananda, Pagla and Punarbhaba are drying up. Lack of water is having adverse effects on the environment. Water analysts say, a water crisis has erupted at Farakka Point as India withdrew water through multiple dams upstream. If this situation continues, the northern part of the country could become a desert by 2030.

As a result of Farakka Barrage, four rivers including Padma are now almost dead. The flow of water in the river now depends on the will or reluctance of India. Water is not available in the dry season and floods and river erosion occur when water is suddenly released in the rainy season. Environmentalists say, the drying up of the river has had a devastating effect on biodiversity.

Leaders of several organizations, including Save the Nature, said that the lack of water in the Padma is having an adverse effect on the environment. The most affected are plants and animals. According to the Chapainawabganj Water Development Board, due to the long-term effects of the Farakka Barrage, three other rivers including the Padma, Mahananda, Pagla and Punarbhaba are drying up. Even if we get the necessary water now, it cannot be retained. Floods and erosion are on the rise due to the sudden opening of the Farakka Barrage.

48 years ago from today, on May 16, the great leader Maulana Bhasani led the long march in Bangladesh against the Farakka Barrage. Since then, the day has been celebrated in Bangladesh as Farakka Long March Day, although Indias position on Farakka has not changed much in the last five decades.

In fact, since India built the Farakka Barrage on the Ganges River, the controversy has never left the project behind. Recently, public opinion against Farakka has been increasing in India as well. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has even proposed to demolish Farakka Barrage. Activists like Medha Patkar and many experts also tell the BBC that Farakka is now causing more harm than good in India. So, it needs to be decommissioned immediately. And for that, a lion man like Maulana Bhasani is needed at this time.

Data and analysis say that the Farakka Barrage is not bringing benefits for both Bangladesh and India. On the contrary, it has caused inconvenience to both countries. We want an effective solution to this long-awaited Farakka Barrage problem. This is the expectation on the historic Farakka Long March Day.

The writer is a researcher, journalist and columnist

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