Friday, August 26, 2016 EDITORIAL

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 EDITORIAL 
“A power plant like Rampal would never be allowed in India”
No other English aphorism has been so much admired as the English poet Alexander Pope’s acclaimed phrase “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”—- which found expression in the writings of subsequent distinguished sages like Edmund Burke, Thomas Hardy, E. M. Forster, James Joyce and so on. Furthermore, acknowledged as the author who can be read again and again and benefited from, Forster had borrowed the maxim for his first work of fiction. Moreover, at least a score films and lyrics have made use of the well-liked adage.
The epigram is self-explanatory referring to rashness, impudence or not showing careful thought or good judgment; and hence needs no elaboration. However, to paraphrase it, ignorant or inexperienced individuals get involved in situations that wiser persons avoid.
This we say with reference to the destructive stubborn policy decision concerning the environmentally and ecologically very much wrong site selection of the most controversial coal-based electricity generating plant near the Sundarbans by the ruling Awami League government headed by Sheikh Hasina vis-à-vis a daily newspaper headline —- “A power plant like Rampal would never be allowed in India,” dated 23 August 2016. [Vide dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/08/23/power-plant-like-rampal ].
The news item details the disapproval of the Rampal power station project by eminent Indian experts who conspicuously and unequivocally echo what the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Power and Ports (NCPOGMRPP) leaders, ecologists and technical experts have been cogently arguing against the site that would be perilous for human habitation and cause ultimate extinction of the UNESCO World Heritage Sundarbans over the last four years.
Indeed, great minds think alike—-be it in Bangladesh or in India, but the state actors of both the countries behave arrogantly, oblivious of objective condition and ground reality. Here it is pertinent to refer to the article “Rampal power plant: A project of deception and mass destruction” written by Anu Muhammad on19 Sep 2013 [Vide http opinion. bdnews24.com/ 2013/09/19/rampal-power-plant-a-project-of-deception-and-mass-destruction].
As the news report goes, several Indian experts have expressed “disbelief at how Bangladesh government even approved the coal-based Rampal power plant in the first place, saying such a project near a vulnerable environment site like the Sundarbans would have been shot down in India at the first instance”. Indian environment specialists and rights activists said that no matter what the government in both countries claim, the construction of the 1,320MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant at Rampal in Bagerhat would “surely have dire consequences on the Sundarbans.”
A vocal opponent of the Rampal project is the chairman of West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Dr Kalyan Rudra, who said: “There is no precedence—not in West Bengal or India—of constructing a thermal power plant so close to a reserved forest.
“According to a list of India’s central Environment Ministry, this thermal power plant falls under the ‘red category industry’—meaning this industry is extremely dangerous for environment. This [plant] produces both effluent and emission. So there cannot even be a question of setting up such a plant near a reserved forest [Sundarban].”
The Indian experts also said it was “incomprehensible why the NTPC Limited—India’s largest thermal power agency—was building a plant near a mangrove forest in Bangladesh when it had never done so near any mangrove forest in India”.  Cautioning about the river pollution hazard caused by the Rampal plant, Dr Rudra said how ashes produced by West Bengal’s Bakreshwar Thermal Power Station situated on the western bank of Hooghly River, destroyed biodiversity. The waste ashes from the thermal power plant had killed off all fishes, insects, algae, crabs of the river.
Indian environmentalists also expressed their worries about the fate of the Bengal Tigers that are native to the Sundarbans. Gauri Maulekhi, a trustee for the animal rights organisation People for Animals, said she had no doubt that the activities of the Rampal thermal power plant would destroy the natural habitat of tigers in the Sundarbans. It was impossible to prevent pollution at a place so close to a thermal power plant, she said.
Despite all the warnings and protests, India’s NTPC Ltd continues to insist that the Rampal project would have almost no impact on the Sundarbans. An NTPC spokesperson declined to make any comments on this issue.
Meanwhile, a video of a demonstration before the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Mr Harsh Vardhan Shringla, against the proposed Rampal power plant project has gone viral on the popular social media Facebook. In the video, a group of youths are seen to stage the demonstration on Dhaka University campus when Mr.  Shringla went there to attend a programme on August 17. The 45-second video shows youths are forming a human chain on both sides of the road holding placards that read “Go back NTPC”, “Go back India” and in protest of killings of Bangladeshi national at the borders by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) when Mr Shringla entered the premises of Faculty of Fine Arts. [August 17, 2016; the dailystar.net/ country/ protest - rampal- issue-du-presence -indian-envoy-1271194]
Recently the BBC Sanglap dwelt on the issue and sought to find whether or not these apolitical left-leaning people are pointing finger at India.
As a matter of fact, the Indo-Bangla relations have been stormy with occasional proxy skirmishes and conflicts. Unquestionably India was of great help during our Liberation War in 1971. But infrequently friendly India has been hostile and intimidating to her small, ever-grateful neighbour Bangladesh. These were—-  Farakka Barrage and very bitter history of Ganges water sharing; brutal killing of thousands of innocent unarmed Bangladeshi civilians by trigger-happy BSF soldiers of India in the border districts; the Chittagong Hill Tract tribal Shanti Bahini’s armed guerrilla fights against Bangladesh Army [Vide http:/ /cht-terrorism. blogspot.com/ 2014/03/ Shanti-Bahini-were -trained-armed-by-India.html];  Indo-Bangla critical trade imbalance, para-tariff barriers and so on. What is more, India wants friendship with the Awami League leaders, not the people of Bangladesh.
It is time for Indian leaders to rethink and introspect for the sake of lasting—-not temporary—-friendship between the two neighbours.

Comment

No other English aphorism has been so much admired as the English poet Alexander Pope’s acclaimed phrase “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”—- which found expression in the writings of subsequent distinguished sages like Edmund Burke, Thomas Hardy, E. M. Forster, James Joyce and so on. Furthermore, acknowledged as the author who can be read again and again and benefited from, Forster had borrowed the maxim for his first work of fiction. Moreover, at least a score films and lyrics have made use of the well-liked adage.
The epigram is self-explanatory referring to rashness, impudence or not showing careful thought or good judgment; and hence needs no elaboration. However, to paraphrase it, ignorant or inexperienced individuals get involved in situations that wiser persons avoid.
This we say with reference to the destructive stubborn policy decision concerning the environmentally and ecologically very much wrong site selection of the most controversial coal-based electricity generating plant near the Sundarbans by the ruling Awami League government headed by Sheikh Hasina vis-à-vis a daily newspaper headline —- “A power plant like Rampal would never be allowed in India,” dated 23 August 2016. [Vide dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2016/08/23/power-plant-like-rampal ].
The news item details the disapproval of the Rampal power station project by eminent Indian experts who conspicuously and unequivocally echo what the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Power and Ports (NCPOGMRPP) leaders, ecologists and technical experts have been cogently arguing against the site that would be perilous for human habitation and cause ultimate extinction of the UNESCO World Heritage Sundarbans over the last four years.
Indeed, great minds think alike—-be it in Bangladesh or in India, but the state actors of both the countries behave arrogantly, oblivious of objective condition and ground reality. Here it is pertinent to refer to the article “Rampal power plant: A project of deception and mass destruction” written by Anu Muhammad on19 Sep 2013 [Vide http opinion. bdnews24.com/ 2013/09/19/rampal-power-plant-a-project-of-deception-and-mass-destruction].
As the news report goes, several Indian experts have expressed “disbelief at how Bangladesh government even approved the coal-based Rampal power plant in the first place, saying such a project near a vulnerable environment site like the Sundarbans would have been shot down in India at the first instance”. Indian environment specialists and rights activists said that no matter what the government in both countries claim, the construction of the 1,320MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant at Rampal in Bagerhat would “surely have dire consequences on the Sundarbans.”
A vocal opponent of the Rampal project is the chairman of West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Dr Kalyan Rudra, who said: “There is no precedence—not in West Bengal or India—of constructing a thermal power plant so close to a reserved forest.
“According to a list of India’s central Environment Ministry, this thermal power plant falls under the ‘red category industry’—meaning this industry is extremely dangerous for environment. This [plant] produces both effluent and emission. So there cannot even be a question of setting up such a plant near a reserved forest [Sundarban].”
The Indian experts also said it was “incomprehensible why the NTPC Limited—India’s largest thermal power agency—was building a plant near a mangrove forest in Bangladesh when it had never done so near any mangrove forest in India”.  Cautioning about the river pollution hazard caused by the Rampal plant, Dr Rudra said how ashes produced by West Bengal’s Bakreshwar Thermal Power Station situated on the western bank of Hooghly River, destroyed biodiversity. The waste ashes from the thermal power plant had killed off all fishes, insects, algae, crabs of the river.
Indian environmentalists also expressed their worries about the fate of the Bengal Tigers that are native to the Sundarbans. Gauri Maulekhi, a trustee for the animal rights organisation People for Animals, said she had no doubt that the activities of the Rampal thermal power plant would destroy the natural habitat of tigers in the Sundarbans. It was impossible to prevent pollution at a place so close to a thermal power plant, she said.
Despite all the warnings and protests, India’s NTPC Ltd continues to insist that the Rampal project would have almost no impact on the Sundarbans. An NTPC spokesperson declined to make any comments on this issue.
Meanwhile, a video of a demonstration before the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Mr Harsh Vardhan Shringla, against the proposed Rampal power plant project has gone viral on the popular social media Facebook. In the video, a group of youths are seen to stage the demonstration on Dhaka University campus when Mr.  Shringla went there to attend a programme on August 17. The 45-second video shows youths are forming a human chain on both sides of the road holding placards that read “Go back NTPC”, “Go back India” and in protest of killings of Bangladeshi national at the borders by Indian Border Security Force (BSF) when Mr Shringla entered the premises of Faculty of Fine Arts. [August 17, 2016; the dailystar.net/ country/ protest - rampal- issue-du-presence -indian-envoy-1271194]
Recently the BBC Sanglap dwelt on the issue and sought to find whether or not these apolitical left-leaning people are pointing finger at India.
As a matter of fact, the Indo-Bangla relations have been stormy with occasional proxy skirmishes and conflicts. Unquestionably India was of great help during our Liberation War in 1971. But infrequently friendly India has been hostile and intimidating to her small, ever-grateful neighbour Bangladesh. These were—-  Farakka Barrage and very bitter history of Ganges water sharing; brutal killing of thousands of innocent unarmed Bangladeshi civilians by trigger-happy BSF soldiers of India in the border districts; the Chittagong Hill Tract tribal Shanti Bahini’s armed guerrilla fights against Bangladesh Army [Vide http:/ /cht-terrorism. blogspot.com/ 2014/03/ Shanti-Bahini-were -trained-armed-by-India.html];  Indo-Bangla critical trade imbalance, para-tariff barriers and so on. What is more, India wants friendship with the Awami League leaders, not the people of Bangladesh.
It is time for Indian leaders to rethink and introspect for the sake of lasting—-not temporary—-friendship between the two neighbours.

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Powers of the President

Barrister Harun ur Rashid
 
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia a few years ago urged the President to take steps towards a consensus between the ruling and the opposition parties for holding a free, fair and participatory election under a non-party government. It is reported that the President said his constitutional powers were limited with regard to taking any such initiative. He assured that he would do his best within his powers for resolving the ongoing political crisis.
Briefing reporters after the meeting at the Bangabhaban, President’s Press Secretary said the President told the 18-party leaders that both sides ­– the Awami League and the BNP – would have to come forward to initiate dialogue.
 
President’s functions & power
“A solution will come if negotiations take place. A dialogue will bring good to the nation. But both sides have to take initiatives. I am not in a position to make such move. I have to protect and preserve the constitution … the democratic process must continue.” The above remark of the President is significant because the President’s powers were taken away by the 12th Constitutional Amendment. Thereafter the successive governments failed to restore the powers of the President so as to resolve a national political crisis.  All executive powers in Bangladesh are vested in the Prime Minister under the constitution (Article 55.2) and not the cabinet which is responsible only to the parliament.  The powers of the President have been spelt out in Article 48 (3) which reads as follows:
“In the exercise of all his functions, save only that of appointing the Prime Minister pursuant to clause (3) of Article 56 and the Chief Justice pursuant to clause (1) of Article 95, the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.” In the aforesaid article, please note the word “shall” and not “may” has been used providing no scope for exercise of discretion of the President. Again in the appointment of Prime Minister the President is bound by clause (3) of article 56 which reads “The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the member of parliament who appears to him to command the support of the majority of the members of parliament.” Here also there is hardly any discretion left for the President.
The President of Bangladesh under the constitution cannot return the bill to the parliament for reconsideration while it appears he can sit on the bill or delay his assent to the bill giving discreet indication that the President is not pleased with the contents of the bill.
 
Constitutionality of election
Such action may however displease the Prime Minister and his job may be at risk. We have witnessed how President A.Q. M. Badruddoza Chowdhury fell into disfavor of the then Prime Minister and he had to resign on June 21 in 2002 after only seven months in the highest office.
Under Article 53 of the Indian Constitution, all “executive powers” (not functions) of the Union are vested in the President.  These powers are exercised by him either directly or through subordinate officers in accordance with the Constitution, meaning the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
When a bill has been passed by the parliament, the President of India can give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the bill or return the bill (if it is not a Money Bill or a Constitutional Amendment Bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.  The President of Bangladesh, when elected by the parliament, resigns from the political party and he becomes a non-partisan person.  The President is the head of the state and the Prime Minister is the head of the government – one of its three organs of the state, the other two, being the parliament and the judiciary. The head of the state also symbolizes the wishes and aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. He is the moral guardian of the constitution and not only its letters but also its spirit.
Article 7 (1) of the constitution stipulates that all powers in the Republic belong to the people and if a large section of people affiliated to a major political party boycotts the parliamentary election, it could be argued that such election does not reflect the powers of all people and hence may seem to be contrary to provision of the constitution.
 
President’s moral authority
This being so, it may be argued that the President, the guardian of the constitution which under 7(2) is the “solemn expression of the will of the people” may intervene to give expression to the will of the people. Furthermore under Article 45 (5) the President may request the Prime Minister to refer the matter raised by the opposition parties for the consideration of the cabinet.  If the violent political confrontation continues, the lives of the people of the country will be at a grave risk, besides the image of Bangladesh in international community. Bangladesh has earned good reputation in keeping peace by sending its personnel in the conflict-zones around the world under the UN and it will be an irony if peace does not exist in Bangladesh itself.  Furthermore the economy will be ruined because there is no investment from domestic or foreign investors. The people suffer because the politicians fight among themselves for powers and privileges. It is like when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.
It is not the formal authority but moral authority which counts.  The President can exercise his moral authority from his exalted position and the people look up to him to address the national crisis.
 
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN,  Geneva.

Comment

Barrister Harun ur Rashid
 
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia a few years ago urged the President to take steps towards a consensus between the ruling and the opposition parties for holding a free, fair and participatory election under a non-party government. It is reported that the President said his constitutional powers were limited with regard to taking any such initiative. He assured that he would do his best within his powers for resolving the ongoing political crisis.
Briefing reporters after the meeting at the Bangabhaban, President’s Press Secretary said the President told the 18-party leaders that both sides ­– the Awami League and the BNP – would have to come forward to initiate dialogue.
 
President’s functions & power
“A solution will come if negotiations take place. A dialogue will bring good to the nation. But both sides have to take initiatives. I am not in a position to make such move. I have to protect and preserve the constitution … the democratic process must continue.” The above remark of the President is significant because the President’s powers were taken away by the 12th Constitutional Amendment. Thereafter the successive governments failed to restore the powers of the President so as to resolve a national political crisis.  All executive powers in Bangladesh are vested in the Prime Minister under the constitution (Article 55.2) and not the cabinet which is responsible only to the parliament.  The powers of the President have been spelt out in Article 48 (3) which reads as follows:
“In the exercise of all his functions, save only that of appointing the Prime Minister pursuant to clause (3) of Article 56 and the Chief Justice pursuant to clause (1) of Article 95, the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.” In the aforesaid article, please note the word “shall” and not “may” has been used providing no scope for exercise of discretion of the President. Again in the appointment of Prime Minister the President is bound by clause (3) of article 56 which reads “The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the member of parliament who appears to him to command the support of the majority of the members of parliament.” Here also there is hardly any discretion left for the President.
The President of Bangladesh under the constitution cannot return the bill to the parliament for reconsideration while it appears he can sit on the bill or delay his assent to the bill giving discreet indication that the President is not pleased with the contents of the bill.
 
Constitutionality of election
Such action may however displease the Prime Minister and his job may be at risk. We have witnessed how President A.Q. M. Badruddoza Chowdhury fell into disfavor of the then Prime Minister and he had to resign on June 21 in 2002 after only seven months in the highest office.
Under Article 53 of the Indian Constitution, all “executive powers” (not functions) of the Union are vested in the President.  These powers are exercised by him either directly or through subordinate officers in accordance with the Constitution, meaning the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.
When a bill has been passed by the parliament, the President of India can give his assent to the bill or withhold his assent to the bill or return the bill (if it is not a Money Bill or a Constitutional Amendment Bill) for reconsideration of the Parliament.  The President of Bangladesh, when elected by the parliament, resigns from the political party and he becomes a non-partisan person.  The President is the head of the state and the Prime Minister is the head of the government – one of its three organs of the state, the other two, being the parliament and the judiciary. The head of the state also symbolizes the wishes and aspirations of the people of Bangladesh. He is the moral guardian of the constitution and not only its letters but also its spirit.
Article 7 (1) of the constitution stipulates that all powers in the Republic belong to the people and if a large section of people affiliated to a major political party boycotts the parliamentary election, it could be argued that such election does not reflect the powers of all people and hence may seem to be contrary to provision of the constitution.
 
President’s moral authority
This being so, it may be argued that the President, the guardian of the constitution which under 7(2) is the “solemn expression of the will of the people” may intervene to give expression to the will of the people. Furthermore under Article 45 (5) the President may request the Prime Minister to refer the matter raised by the opposition parties for the consideration of the cabinet.  If the violent political confrontation continues, the lives of the people of the country will be at a grave risk, besides the image of Bangladesh in international community. Bangladesh has earned good reputation in keeping peace by sending its personnel in the conflict-zones around the world under the UN and it will be an irony if peace does not exist in Bangladesh itself.  Furthermore the economy will be ruined because there is no investment from domestic or foreign investors. The people suffer because the politicians fight among themselves for powers and privileges. It is like when two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled.
It is not the formal authority but moral authority which counts.  The President can exercise his moral authority from his exalted position and the people look up to him to address the national crisis.
 
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN,  Geneva.

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 VIEW POINT 
INDIA’S DANGEROUS RIVER LINKING PROJECT
Over 1,000  Bangladeshis killed by BSF from 2000 to 2015
A.  M. K. Chowdhury
 
India is our big neighbour. India helped us during the War of Liberation of 1971. We always acknowledge it. We shall always remember India’s help till the last day of the world. As we cannot shift our country to any other places in the world, India will remain our neighbour forever. So, we expect neighbourly behaviour from India when both the countries have been enjoying deep-rooted tis on many sectors—politically , economically and culturally—-sharing common interests and views since Awami League (AL)-led government was formed.
 
1,000  Bangladeshis killed by BSF from 2000 to 2015
A news report said at least 46 Bangladeshis were killed by the BSF along the borders in 2015, according to an estimate by a human rights organization, Ain-O- Salish Kendra. Since 2000 , over 1000 people were killed at the hands of BSF until the end of last year. Besides, several thousand people were injured.  
There were also incidents of rape cases commiied by the the BSF personnel.
But it appears from border killings of unarmed and innocent Bangladeshi citizens by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) every now and then that India does not want to behave reasonably with us. Though the BSF claimed that those killed along the borders are not innocent yet they are evidently unarmed.
 
15-year-old Felani shot dead
Felani was a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl. Her father arranged her marriage in Bangladesh.[4] She returned to Bangladesh with her father from New Delhi, India, where the family had been illegally staying. On Friday, 7 January 2011 at about 8.30 am she and her father attempted to illegally cross the Bangladeshi-Indian border by climbing the barbed wire boundary using a ladder. The exact location was International Border No. 947, between 3 and 4 s pillar of Anantapur, Fulbari. Her father, Nuru Mia, crossed first. But when Felani tried to climb over the fence, her clothes got entangled in the wire, and she started screaming.[5] Hearing her scream, the BSF members started shooting at her.
A BSF member, Amiya Ghosh, who was tried twice in BSF’s own court on charge of shooting to death a Bangladeshi teenage girl Felani Khatun along Kurigram border on January 7, 2011. But both the times he was acquitted. Her father went o the Indian Supreme Court (ISC) and filed a writ petition for fair trial.
Bangladesh has over 4,000 kilometres border, the fifth largest land border in the world. Border killings mostly take place in the Indian side by the BSF and there are hardly any reports of killings by the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB).
 
Numerous useless discussions
There have been numerous discussions, flag meetings between BSF and BGB, and talks at ministerial levels between the two countries to curb border killings. But nothing seems to have developed so far. Border killings continue unabated. (see The Daily Observer, dated January 25, 2016).
Another report said 19 Bangladeshis between January to July 2016, 74 people in 2010, 31 in 2011, 38 in 2012, 29 in 2o13, 33 in 2014 and 46 in 2015 have been killed by the BSF along the borders. (see The Daily Naya Diganta, dated July 26)
Besides, there are also some cases where the victims were allegedly tortured and killed in BSF custody. Many others appeared to have fallen victims to bullets because they were too close to the border.
Bangladesh and India share 54 common rivers. Both the countries are in dispute over sharing of the Ganges water and the Teesta water.
 
River linking project to divert waters of common rivers
India’s mega river linking project is aimed at diverting the water of some of the common rivers by linking them with the canals. The river-linking projects involve 14 Himalayan rivers, including those flowing through Bangladesh and 16 peninsula rivers. Bangladesh being a lower riparian country has a lawful right to enjoy the benefits of common/international rivers. India is yet to sign the Teesta river water sharing pact. The Teesta river enters Bangladesh near Tin Bigha of Lalmonirhat district. Sharing of water of the rivers is necessary in the dry season. Bangladesh has to irrigate farming land with water from the Teesta during the dry season. Since Sikkim and West Bengal withdraw water from the Teesta, the flow has been drastically reduced to the detriment of the farmers.
India cannot do it unilaterally; if it does then it will be illegal. Upper riparian cannot interfere with the flow of the riverin a way which is substantially damaging the interest of lower riparian country. (see law and our rights, The Daily Star, dated August 4,2015).
Farakka barrage on the Ganges has already caused the south-west and north-east zones of Banglaesh to face increasing desertification and salinity intrusion wreaking havoc on the ecology and environment there. The Farakka barrage was commissioned by india caring little about Bangladesh’s concern as a neighbor. (the New Age, dated June 23, 2016)
As neighbouring country we allowed India to use Chittagong, Mongla and Ashuganj ports as per their demands. We have already been providing corridor facility to India. Heavy machinery for a power plant in Tripura and food grains transported from the west to north – east. We also allowed air transit facilities.
A news report said India has to pay Tk.192.22 for per ton of goods as transit fee. The transit fee was fixed at a Shipping Secretary level meeting in New Delhi in November 2015. Indian vehicles need to travel 1,650 kilometers to transport goods from Kolkata to Agartala through Guwhati. Now they will have to ross only 350 kilometers while they take a cross- border trip through Bangladesh’s Ashuganj port. India needs transit to carry goods through Ashuganj port to support its seven sister states : Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Monipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Prodesh. (The Daily Observer, dated May 26, 2016)
It may be pointed out here that the ‘core committee’ formed in 2011 under Mujibur Rahman, the then chairman, Tariff Commission, proposed Tk. 1058 (one thousand and fifty eight) per ton of goods as transit fee, considering transit related charges, which was reasonable. We would then get Tk. 10 lakh 58 thousand per 1000 tons of goods. Now we would get Tk. 1 lakh 92 thousand only. (The Daily Naya Diganta, dated May 29, 2016).
Mention may be made here that India had rebuffed our nation’s architect, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding President of Bangladesh when he requested access to Calcutta (now Kolkata) port in the immediate aftermath of our Liberation War in 1971 as both the major ports of Bangladesh were nonfunctional then. India also rejected President Ziaur Rahman’s request for just 16 miles of land transit through India for direct trade-link with Nepal. (The Holiday, dated September 10, 2010 page 5)
As we have a keen interest in developing life long relation with India for help, we hope India will not do anything wrong depriving Bangladesh of her lawful right in sharing water of common rivers. There will be no more border killings by the BSF. We expect India will behave reasonably.

Comment

A.  M. K. Chowdhury
 
India is our big neighbour. India helped us during the War of Liberation of 1971. We always acknowledge it. We shall always remember India’s help till the last day of the world. As we cannot shift our country to any other places in the world, India will remain our neighbour forever. So, we expect neighbourly behaviour from India when both the countries have been enjoying deep-rooted tis on many sectors—politically , economically and culturally—-sharing common interests and views since Awami League (AL)-led government was formed.
 
1,000  Bangladeshis killed by BSF from 2000 to 2015
A news report said at least 46 Bangladeshis were killed by the BSF along the borders in 2015, according to an estimate by a human rights organization, Ain-O- Salish Kendra. Since 2000 , over 1000 people were killed at the hands of BSF until the end of last year. Besides, several thousand people were injured.  
There were also incidents of rape cases commiied by the the BSF personnel.
But it appears from border killings of unarmed and innocent Bangladeshi citizens by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) every now and then that India does not want to behave reasonably with us. Though the BSF claimed that those killed along the borders are not innocent yet they are evidently unarmed.
 
15-year-old Felani shot dead
Felani was a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl. Her father arranged her marriage in Bangladesh.[4] She returned to Bangladesh with her father from New Delhi, India, where the family had been illegally staying. On Friday, 7 January 2011 at about 8.30 am she and her father attempted to illegally cross the Bangladeshi-Indian border by climbing the barbed wire boundary using a ladder. The exact location was International Border No. 947, between 3 and 4 s pillar of Anantapur, Fulbari. Her father, Nuru Mia, crossed first. But when Felani tried to climb over the fence, her clothes got entangled in the wire, and she started screaming.[5] Hearing her scream, the BSF members started shooting at her.
A BSF member, Amiya Ghosh, who was tried twice in BSF’s own court on charge of shooting to death a Bangladeshi teenage girl Felani Khatun along Kurigram border on January 7, 2011. But both the times he was acquitted. Her father went o the Indian Supreme Court (ISC) and filed a writ petition for fair trial.
Bangladesh has over 4,000 kilometres border, the fifth largest land border in the world. Border killings mostly take place in the Indian side by the BSF and there are hardly any reports of killings by the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB).
 
Numerous useless discussions
There have been numerous discussions, flag meetings between BSF and BGB, and talks at ministerial levels between the two countries to curb border killings. But nothing seems to have developed so far. Border killings continue unabated. (see The Daily Observer, dated January 25, 2016).
Another report said 19 Bangladeshis between January to July 2016, 74 people in 2010, 31 in 2011, 38 in 2012, 29 in 2o13, 33 in 2014 and 46 in 2015 have been killed by the BSF along the borders. (see The Daily Naya Diganta, dated July 26)
Besides, there are also some cases where the victims were allegedly tortured and killed in BSF custody. Many others appeared to have fallen victims to bullets because they were too close to the border.
Bangladesh and India share 54 common rivers. Both the countries are in dispute over sharing of the Ganges water and the Teesta water.
 
River linking project to divert waters of common rivers
India’s mega river linking project is aimed at diverting the water of some of the common rivers by linking them with the canals. The river-linking projects involve 14 Himalayan rivers, including those flowing through Bangladesh and 16 peninsula rivers. Bangladesh being a lower riparian country has a lawful right to enjoy the benefits of common/international rivers. India is yet to sign the Teesta river water sharing pact. The Teesta river enters Bangladesh near Tin Bigha of Lalmonirhat district. Sharing of water of the rivers is necessary in the dry season. Bangladesh has to irrigate farming land with water from the Teesta during the dry season. Since Sikkim and West Bengal withdraw water from the Teesta, the flow has been drastically reduced to the detriment of the farmers.
India cannot do it unilaterally; if it does then it will be illegal. Upper riparian cannot interfere with the flow of the riverin a way which is substantially damaging the interest of lower riparian country. (see law and our rights, The Daily Star, dated August 4,2015).
Farakka barrage on the Ganges has already caused the south-west and north-east zones of Banglaesh to face increasing desertification and salinity intrusion wreaking havoc on the ecology and environment there. The Farakka barrage was commissioned by india caring little about Bangladesh’s concern as a neighbor. (the New Age, dated June 23, 2016)
As neighbouring country we allowed India to use Chittagong, Mongla and Ashuganj ports as per their demands. We have already been providing corridor facility to India. Heavy machinery for a power plant in Tripura and food grains transported from the west to north – east. We also allowed air transit facilities.
A news report said India has to pay Tk.192.22 for per ton of goods as transit fee. The transit fee was fixed at a Shipping Secretary level meeting in New Delhi in November 2015. Indian vehicles need to travel 1,650 kilometers to transport goods from Kolkata to Agartala through Guwhati. Now they will have to ross only 350 kilometers while they take a cross- border trip through Bangladesh’s Ashuganj port. India needs transit to carry goods through Ashuganj port to support its seven sister states : Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Monipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Prodesh. (The Daily Observer, dated May 26, 2016)
It may be pointed out here that the ‘core committee’ formed in 2011 under Mujibur Rahman, the then chairman, Tariff Commission, proposed Tk. 1058 (one thousand and fifty eight) per ton of goods as transit fee, considering transit related charges, which was reasonable. We would then get Tk. 10 lakh 58 thousand per 1000 tons of goods. Now we would get Tk. 1 lakh 92 thousand only. (The Daily Naya Diganta, dated May 29, 2016).
Mention may be made here that India had rebuffed our nation’s architect, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding President of Bangladesh when he requested access to Calcutta (now Kolkata) port in the immediate aftermath of our Liberation War in 1971 as both the major ports of Bangladesh were nonfunctional then. India also rejected President Ziaur Rahman’s request for just 16 miles of land transit through India for direct trade-link with Nepal. (The Holiday, dated September 10, 2010 page 5)
As we have a keen interest in developing life long relation with India for help, we hope India will not do anything wrong depriving Bangladesh of her lawful right in sharing water of common rivers. There will be no more border killings by the BSF. We expect India will behave reasonably.

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