: Delhi, March 27, 2011
Bangladesh and Bhutan are planning to bring about a join venture of proper sharing of water resources between the two countries. This was disclosed by the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni, after a high level meeting between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck took place on Friday, 24th of March in Dhaka. The meeting was part of Bhutanese King’s five day official visit to Bangladesh to attend the 40th Independence Day celebration in the country. The meeting also centered around collaboration in the pharmaceutical sector as well as to hire Bangladeshi doctors to Bhutan.
With this, the concern highlighted by Times of Assam on March 21 in the news report “Dangerous Dams in Bhutan – No one is concerned” has taken another new turn. It is now evident Bhutan is now aggressively looking out for its market for exporting electricity after it has started in its venture in hydro power with collaboration from India. In fact it was only on the 14th of March that NHPC entered into an agreement with Bhutan to extend engineering and design consultancy services for the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project of Bhutan. India’s old partner in dam construction, Hydroproject from Russia is also indulged in manufacturing the Sankosh River hydro power complex in Bhutan, which is going to be one of the five tallest dams in the world with 4,000 MW capacity. With such a huge volume of hydro power generation, Bhutan would look forward to export electricity to neighboring India, Bangladesh, and Nepal and for Bangladesh, it is not a bad option to buy cheap electricity from Bhutan.
However in its quest to develop the under developed Himalayan kingdom, it seems Bhutan has definitely not taken into account that the area as well as its neighboring North eastern states of India fall in a very high seismic zone and such hydro projects can create massive destruction to life, property and economy of the region. Also, the water sharing venture between Bhutan and Bangladesh has to be done under consent and transparency of India, especially Assam who would be most affected if a situation arises. With earthquakes already shaking South Asia continuously of late, the water sharing and selling of electricity by Bhutan looks like it is at the cost of risking the lives of the entire region. Unless Bhutan justifies with really good risk assessment and mitigation plans, the people of the region would always live in fear.