American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Downstream Ecocide from Upstream Water Piracy

Miah Muhammad Adel

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2012.528.548

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 8, Issue 5

Pages 528-548


Upstream India and downstream Bangladesh share more than 50 international rivers. India has set up water diversion constructions in more than 50% of these rivers, the largest one being on the Bangladesh’s northwest upon the Ganges River, puts Bangladesh’s Gangetic ecosystem at stake. In some border rivers, India has set up groins on her side of river banks. Also, Indian side pumps Bangladesh river water stealthily from border-rivers. Further, India is constructing another dam and reservoir upstream on the Barak River on the northeast of Bangladesh. Furthermore, India has chalked out a grand plan for river networking. Exploration has been made to assess the degree of the ecosystem degradation both inland and on the coast due to all water diversion constructions around the border, except for the Tipaimukh Dam in which case estimation of projected ecosystem degradation has been mentioned. Finally, Indian grand plan of river networking plan has been briefly touched upon. Site visitations, observations, surveys, measurements and interviews of professionals were made in the project country. Relevant literatures on this issue were reviewed in electronic and print databases. Related published articles in electronic and print media were systematically searched following the key words for the case. Finally, both electronic and print news media have been closely followed to know the latest developments on this issue. The reduced flow of the Ganges in Bangladesh has caused scarcity of fresh water, species endangerment and extinction, obstruction to livestock raising, loss of livelihoods, people’s displacement, changes in crop production, reduction in navigable routes, extreme weather, increased flood occurrences, scarcity of potable water, groundwater contamination, reduction in coastal sediment deposition, deterioration of the Ganges water quality and inland intrusion of saline water front. Water diversion constructions in other rivers have caused similar type of ecological problems. The construction of groins on the Indian side of the border rivers has caused bank erosion on the Bangladesh side which changes her map. India benefits herself by occupying the resulting shoal formation within the Bangladesh side of the riverbeds. The Tipaimukh Dam on the Barak River will affect the virgin haor ecosystem the same way as the Ganges basin over a certain time scale. India’s river networking plan is going to create a widespread ecocide in the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin. Water, if not the most, is one of the most important components in an ecosystem. Living being cannot survive without it. Ecocide occurs in its absence. Obstruction to the downstream natural flow of rivers by the upstream country unilateral actions is tantamount to violations of human rights which is a crime. With the dilapidated ecosystem, Bangladesh’s national security is at stake. Bangladesh’s internal immunity is not strong enough to face the threats of climate change events. Bangladesh government should take a tough stand for the country’s interests. Since she has failed to save her interests on a bilateral basis with India, she should take immediate steps for fair share of the pirated river water under the UN supervision. Also, she should approach the UN for getting back the river shoals captured by India. Bangladesh should have a master plan of dredging rivers and canals for water storage and inland distribution to the depleted surface water bodies to reestablish the wetland ecosystem. This will help, to some extent, in the gradual mitigation of all the problems including groundwater arsenic contamination, fish scarcity, erratic climate. It is due for Bangladesh to charge the upstream country for the dredging cost of the rivers and canals since upstream country’s water piracy has regionally silted her rivers and canals. Since the saving of the biodiversity is an international slogan of the time, Bangladesh should ask the UN to enforce strict international laws to stop any means of upstream water piracy including new constructions of dams, barrages, reservoirs, link canals upon international rivers to save the downstream biodiversity. Sanctions should be put in place for the violators of the law. Bangladesh’s approach to international court may be an option, too.


© 2012 Miah Muhammad Adel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.