NEW DELHI, Dec 2 – In the face of stiff opposition in Bangladesh, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has reiterated that India will not take steps on the Tipaimukh project which may adversely affect the neighbouring country. Dr Singh gave the assurance to two visiting top Bangladeshi officials, who have been rushed to India. Dr Mashiur Rahman and Professor Gowher Rizvi, advisers to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, were sent to India by Sheikh Hasina in the aftermath of the controversy over floating of a joint venture company on October 22 by the NHPC to execute the hydropower project.
Sources said that India has conveyed that it would be happy to receive a delegation from Bangladesh and hold discussions in this regard. The two advisers, who also called on National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, wanted an early discussion between India and Bangladesh on the Tipaimukh project.
An official spokesman confirming the call on the Prime Minister by the two advisers to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh over the Tipaimukh project described it as a courtesy call. “As you are aware, the Government of India has already conveyed to the Government of Bangladesh its readiness to hold discussions on the Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project,” he added.
The Prime Minister reiterated the assurance he had given to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit to Bangladesh in September that India would not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that will adversely affect Bangladesh”.
India responded by pointing out that a 10-member Bangladesh Parliamentary delegation led by Abdur Razzak, former Water Resources Minister and current chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources, had visited India in July, 2009 at the invitation of the Government of India. It had been clarified to the delegation that the proposed project was a hydro-electric project with provision to control floods and that this would not involve diversion of water on account of irrigation.
Sources said that the advisers were told that the Tipaimukh project was for generation of power with no irrigation component and no diversion of water.