HC orders govt to act on water deal with India
Saturday, 21 June 2008


The High Court Thursday ordered the government to explain why the concerned authorities were not being directed to take steps to ensure procurement of water from the Ganges in line with an agreement with India.

The court also ordered the government to take initiatives to reconsider the Ganges water sharing treaty through international forums, including the United Nations, according to international law and conventions.

It also sought an explanation from the government why authorities should not be directed to set up a Ganges/Padma barrage as an alternative source for ensuring adequate water supply.

A HC bench of justices Nazmun Ara Sultana and Md Rezaul Haque made the order following a public interest litigation petition filed by Supreme Court lawyers MK Muraduzzaman and Faruk Hossain.

The cabinet secretary, foreign secretary, secretary to the president, secretary to the ministry of forestry and environment and secretary to the ministry of disaster and relief were ordered to give their explanations within four weeks.

Advocate Tazul Islam, who stood for the petitioners, told the court that Bangladesh was supposed to get 67,516 cusecs (cubic feet of water per second) during each specified 'period'. The Bangladesh-India treaty divides each month into three periods.

Bangladesh received only 55,556 cusecs in the first ten days of January, 2008, losing almost 12,000 cusecs during this period, he said.

Advocate Tazul added that the deal was supposed to be reviewed at least every five years, and sometimes less, according to the conditions of the water sharing pact.

There was scope in the treaty for Bangladesh to propose the time for a review, he cited.

But no such step has been taken in the past 12 years since the deal was signed, the lawyer said.

India breaches the conditions of the deal by depriving Bangladesh of water every year through the Farakka dam, Tazul said.

Supreme Court lawyers MK Muraduzzaman and Faruk Hossain filed their petition with the High Court on June 8, this year.

Deputy attorney general Idris Khan represented the state.

The 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty between Bangladesh and India was signed on Dec 12, 1996.

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