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Ganges dam project on hold because of Indian flooding fears

Staff writer ▼ | January 14, 2016
Bangladesh's plan to build a dam on the Ganges River to ease water shortages in its southwest coastal region hangs in the balance as India didn't accept the plan.
Ganges dam
Environment   Bangladesh started work on the proposed Ganges Barrage Project
Bangladesh started work on the proposed Ganges Barrage Project during the tenure of the previous ruling Awami League government in the late 1990s, Reuters reports.

The country has already completed a feasibility study and the design for the proposed 2.1 kilometre-long dam, due to be constructed at Pangsha in Rajbari district, about 100 km downstream from the Farakka Barrage in India’s West Bengal state.

The Ganges, known as the Padma River in Bangladesh, is one of the major sources of surface water in the southwest of the country. Water scarcity and water salinity - made worse by climate change - are common problems in the region, which is why Bangladesh has given the barrage project top priority.

Experts say salinity is on the rise in the southwest due to sea-level rise from global warning. The proposed dam would release water through river channels to help dilute the salt levels.

However, experts say it will be difficult to push forward with the project in the absence of support from India.

New Delhi sent a letter to the Bangladesh government in early 2015 saying Indian technical experts had evaluated project documents sent by Dhaka and were concerned the dam could cause flooding in India.

The Ganges flows out of India on flat terrain from West Bengal. India in the letter predicted that even a slight increase in the river’s water level would cause huge submergence in areas of India bordering Bangladesh.