GUWAHATI, Nov 16 - A two-day regional consultation on cooperation in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in the Brahmaputra river basin was organised by the Aaranyak here recently. In the consultation, experts and civil society organisation activists from Bangladesh also took part, besides experts and activists of the civil society organisations of the State.
A press release stated that the consultation in its technical sessions discussed the water policies and responsibilities of the upper riparian countries. The speakers in the deliberations also laid stress on institutional frameworks for sharing the data to facilitate proper management of the river.
The lack of mutual trust and understanding among the riparian countries – China, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh– have been creating a lot of problems on the matters related to the trans-boundary rivers.
Some of them also focused on the social aspects connected with the Brahmaputra, which have made it a lifeline for the people belonging to its basin in both North East India and Bangladesh.
The issue related to arsenic contamination of the groundwater in some parts of the basin also featured in the consultation and the experts and civil society organisation representatives called for introduction of improved and women-friendly technologies to mitigate the problem.
Those who spoke in the first technical session included Dr Anamika Barua of IIT Guwahati, Prof Chandan Sarma of Tezpur University, Prof (Eng) Bilquis Hoque, president of the Environmental and Population Research Centre of Bangladesh. Former Secretary of the State’s Water Resources Department Anup Kumar Mitra presided over the first technical session of the consultation.
A technical session or reporting on the Brahmaputra and the role of the media was also held. Speaking at the session, Dr Abdul Khayer, an agricultural engineer from Bangladesh highlighted the role played by the media in bridging the gap between the policy-makers and the common people. He also called for steps by the media to generate awareness among the people on disasters. He praised the role played by the Bangladesh media in this respect.
Prof Mahfuza Rahman, a former teacher of Cotton College, maintained that the media has not been able to highlight the environment-related issues properly. She also rued that disasters in the North East of India, particularly the Assam floods, are not getting adequate coverage in the national media of the country.
Dilip Chandan, Editor of the Assamese Weekly Asam Bani said that because of the dearth of journalists in the local media houses in the North East region of India, reporters here are made to cover almost all the events, which prevents them from solely concentrating on some specific issues like disasters, etc.
Chairing the session, Samudra Gupta Kashyap, senior journalist of The Indian Express, laid stress on taking the media as a force multiplier. He also said that there is a need of a responsible media.
An anthology of articles titled, ‘Water Conflicts in North East India’ was inaugurated by eminent film maker Gautam Bora. The anthology is edited by KJ Joy, Partha J Das, Gorky Chakrabarty, Chandan Mahanta, Suhas Paranjape and Shruti Vispute. It is published by Routledge India.
Speaking on the occasion, Gautam Bora raised the question as to who is the controlling authority of a river. Though people have the right to a river, but it is seized by the capitalists, which is a common scenario all over the world.
Dr Dulal Goswami as a guest of honour lauded the efforts of the people engaged in publishing the compilation, saying that this kind of documentation is an important resource for future generations. He also laid stress on translating the contents of the collection into vernacular languages so that it can be understood by the grass-root-level people.