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Cooperation on Eastern Himalayan Rivers: Opportunities and Challenges

By Q K Ahmad K D Adhikari

The urgency of optimally harnessing the vast potential of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) Basin, which is home to the largest concentration of the worlds poor, is the theme of this second consensual volume on regional co-operation between Bangladesh, India and Nepal. This concludes a collaborative effort by the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, the Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad, Dhaka and Institute for Integrated Development Studies, Kathmandu, that commenced in 1990. A new window of opportunity opened in 1996 with the signing of the landmark Mahakali and Ganga Water Sharing Agreements between Nepal and India and Bangladesh and India.

This volume sees water as the most appropriate entry point for integrated co-operative GBM regional development. It takes the human condition of this region as the starting point since the whole object of developing its natural endowments is poverty alleviation and sustained socio-economic progress. It portrays this as an eminently win-win situation, using water as a springboard for overall basin development. Harnessing the waters of the GBM region is central to feeding burgeoning populations, generating employment, reducing out-migration, upgrading the environment and producing cheap, clean energy - all these as a means of stimulating investment and growth with equity.

The authors see potential for augmenting Ganga flows below Farakka through a multi-purpose storage on the Sapta Kosi in Nepal, or from a proposed dam on the Sunkosh in Bhutan and its diversion westwards to the Teesta and thence, Ganga basin. Alternative alignments for transferring water from the Brahmaputra to the Ganga are also posed for consideration. The authors draw particular attention to emerging issues of water quality.

The contributors to this volume are Dhoj Adhikari, Senior Advisor, Water Resources Development Study, IIDS, Kathmandu, former Chief Secretary, Nepal; Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, an Economist and Chairman of Bangladesh Unnayan Parishad, Dhaka; Shankar Krishna Maila, Team Leader, Water Resources Development Study, IIDS, Kathmandu, former Member-Secretary, Planning Commision, Nepal; Bharat Bahadur Pradhan, Senior Advisor, Water Resources Development Study, IIDS, Kathmandu, former Finance Minister, Nepal; Khalilur Rahman, Member of the Joint Rivers Commission, Bangladesh; R. Rangachari, Visiting Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi and former Member, Joint Rivers Commision and Central Water Commission; K B Sajjadur Rasheed, Professor of Geography, Dhaka University and Member, BUP Study Team; &, B G Verghese, Research Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

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