The Farakka Problem

Introduction: Rivers are very important in the life of a nation. The three most important rivers in Bangladesh are the Padma, the Brahmaputra and the Megna. They irrigate almost the whole of Bangladesh and connect different parts of the country with one another. In fact, these rivers control the economy and determine the fate of our nation to a large extent.

What is Farakka problem: Since the partition of India in 1947, these rivers have become international and the question of sharing their waters has come up. In the matter of sharing the waters India has an advantage. All the big rivers like the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Teesta and many other small rivers following through Bangladesh have their origin India. So India can obstruct the natural flow of one or more of these international rivers to her own advantage, but to the serious disadvantage of Bangladesh. International law, however, prohibits this kind of obstruction. Yet, India has caused this kind obstruction with the natural flow of the Ganges at Farakka in West Bengal and thus has created for Bangladesh a problem which is known as the Farakka Problem.

Farakka Barrage: Farakka in West Bengal is twelve miles away from the Bangladesh border. The Government of India built a barrage across the Ganges at this point on the plea of flushing the Hoogly River to save the Calcutta port. Using Ganges water to flush the Hoogly river bed is technically unsound and waterfall. Yet, the government of India put barrage with its feeder canal in operation on condition that it would diver only 16 thousand cusec of water maximum for 10 days from 21st April to 31st May, 1975, ensuring supply of the remaining quantity of water to Bangladesh. But ever after the expiry of the said period since 1st June, 1975. India has been unilaterally diverting greater part of the Ganges water, creating serious problems for Bangladesh.

Problems created by India: In the first place, Bangladesh has to depend now on India and nature for water. Now overflow of water causes severe floods and shortage of water causes drought in Bangladesh. This is damaging the economy and affecting the ecology of the country. Secondly, the abnormal decrease in the flow of the Ganges water in the dry season owing to India’s withdrawal of it not only affects its navigability but also causes the surface and ground water levels to fall abnormally, particularly in the northern districts. This has a very adverse effect on the irrigation system and on the flora and fauna of the region. Thirdly, owing to the weakened river flow the sea has published the salinity belt more than a hundred miles into the interior, affecting agriculture and industry seriously.

Conclusion: However, a Joint River commission has been set up by the Government of Bangladesh and India to study the problems that the Farakka Barrage has created for Bangladesh and to suggest ways and means to solve them. The people of amicably and also to settle once for all the vexed question of equitable sharing of the waters of the Ganges and other international rivers.

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