Bangladesh keen on India as stakeholder in Ganges barrage project: Minister

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Dhaka, Oct 8 (IANS) Bangladesh is keen for India to be a “stakeholder” in the proposed Ganges Barrage project, a dam on the Padma river – as the Ganges is known in Bangladesh, a Minister has said.

State Minister for Water Resources Nazrul Islam said two Chinese companies are keen to wholly finance the $4 billion project, and Japan is also willing to fund at least $2 billion, bdnews24 reported on Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a trans-regional conference, Islam said: “But because the Ganges flows into Bangladesh from India, we take a long term view of the project and our Prime Minister is keen to get India into it.”

He told bdnews24 that an Indian team from its water resources ministry will soon visit Dhaka to hold discussions on the Ganges Barrage project.

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“The issue was raised during Indian Pime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka last year. He showed much interest and Indian officials later asked for the project details which we have provided,” Islam said.

The Ganges barrage will be a 165 km long reservoir running from Rajbari to Chapainawabganj districts in Bangladesh, with a depth of 12.5 m. It will hold a phenomenal 2.9 billion cubic litres and cost Taka 314 billion.

The barrage will retain the water of the trans-boundary river Ganga, during the monsoon and feed small rivers during the lean season. The Padma water is proposed to be diverted to 26 districts through 123 regional rivers.

Building the dam would alleviate water shortages, and contamination of water supplies in southwest Bangladesh, experts say.

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This will help Bangladesh flush the small rivers and reduce salinity, a major threat to public health and agriculture in the country’s southwest region, bdnews24 reported.

Islam sought to allay fears of flooding on the Indian side of Ganges.

“The project has provided for allocations for upgrading and raising embankments on the Indian side to avoid any flooding,” he said.

But the minister felt that it might not be needed because the embankments on the Indian side were ‘already quite high and well done up’.

Chinese firm, Hydrochina Corporation, has expressed interest in building the dam.



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