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Details

China Lending Bangladesh Almost $1 BN for Teesta River Project

Kamran Reza Chowdhury/BenarNews
Dhaka

A Boat on Teesta River, Gaibandha, Bangladesh

Bangladesh is to receive a loan of nearly U.S. $1 billion from China for a project to maintain levels in the Teesta River during the drought season after efforts to approve a water-sharing deal with India failed, government officials said.

In May the Ministry of Finance asked for $853 million to implement the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project in the greater Rangpur region. The Chinese loan marks the first time that China, India’s regional rival, will be involved in a river management project in Bangladesh.

“A massive project funded by China has been adopted for the management of the Teesta River and China has agreed to fund it. Hopefully, we can start the project by December,” Jyoti Prosad Ghosh, an additional chief engineer at the Water Development Board, which falls under the Ministry of Water Resources, told BenarNews.

The Teesta project, which is estimated to cost $983 million, is one of nine projects where officials in Dhaka have sought $6 billion from China on top of a previous $22 billion in loans from the superpower, as Beijing expands its footprint in the South Asian nation largely through the construction of infrastructure works.

“The Teesta River’s width varies between one kilometer and five kilometers at different places. So, we will narrow the width of the river to one kilometer all along and enhance the depth of the river to at least 10 meters so it can hold more water,” Ghosh said.

While the river floods during the monsoon season, it runs nearly dry between November and February each year.

“Hopefully, the project would bring benefits,” he said.

Ghosh did not release details about whether Bangladeshi or Chinese companies would be responsible for the project or a timeline for its completion. Chinese Embassy officials in Dhaka did not immediately respond to a request from BenarNews seeking confirmation on the loan for the river scheme.

Source in India

The Teesta is one of the 54 rivers that enter Bangladesh from upstream India before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

The flood plains of the Teesta, which originates in the Indian state of Sikkim, span 2,750 square km (1,061 square miles) in Bangladesh.

A report by the Asia Foundation on the political economy of the Teesta referred to it as the fourth largest transboundary river in Bangladesh. It flows through the five northern districts of Gaibandha, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, and Rangpur.

The study said at least 21 million people in Bangladesh were directly or indirectly dependent on the river for their livelihoods including through fishing.

Bangladeshi officials have complained that water levels along the river have fallen dramatically over the years because of India’s failure to implement its side of a water-sharing deal despite decades of negotiations and partly because of dams built on the Indian side.

An environmentalist raised concerns about the river restoration project that will be financed with Chinese money.

“The Teesta carries a huge volume of silt from upstream. During the rainy season, the bulk water would carry huge amounts, so within three years, the river would be silted up and cause flooding again,” Ainun Nishat told BenarNews.

“The way the Water Development Board is going to reduce the width of the river would cause harm to the river and its fishing resources,” said Nishat, a water resource and climate change specialist who is a professor emeritus at Bangladesh’s BRAC University.

“If the river depth is made 10 meters or more, ground water would flow into the river during dry season, making the nearby farmland unusable,” he said.

Nishat also expressed concern for fish and wildlife linked to the river.

“The Teesta River provides a sardine-type sweet piyali fish. What would happen to the fish if the depth is increased through dredging? What would happen to the turtles and other aquatic species,” he asked.

Dredging machines cut riverbeds and shoals and pump out sand, a process that could destroy habitats for fish, turtles and other species.

Decades of negotiations

Teesta Barrage on the river Tista at Dalia, Nilphamari, Bangladesh

The Teesta issue has long been a thorn in Indo-Bangladeshi relations.

Nishat said India and what was then East Pakistan started negotiations in 1951 to share water from the river. Nearly seven decades later, the deal has not been signed even as officials have continued with negotiations.

Discussions were expedited after Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009 when negotiators worked out a sharing formula with India getting 42.5 percent water while Bangladesh would get 37.5 percent. The remaining 20 percent would be kept for maintaining the health of the river.

The deal was supposed to be signed during the Bangladesh visit of then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011, but Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, blocked it.

The Teesta forms the border between West Bengal and Sikkim, and Banerjee protested, saying the treaty would render parts of her state dry.

Under the Indian constitution, the central government cannot make any decisions on water issues without the consent of state governments affected by such decisions.

During Hasina’s visit to New Delhi last year, she urged the Indian government to sign the Teesta deal “finalized in 2011.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Hasina that his government had been working on the deal with all stakeholders, according to the joint statement of issued during the visit.

“At this moment, there is no progress on signing the Teesta deal,” Mahmudur Rahman, the lone member of the Bangladesh-India Joint Rivers Commission, told BenarNews.

A Bangladesh official said the nation should have access to the river.

“According to international law, Bangladesh as a lower riparian country must get its due share of water from the Teesta. We recognize that India also needs the water,” Faruk Khan, chairman of Bangladesh’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, told BenarNews. “So, we need to sign the deal which would be win-win for both the countries.”

He said technical negotiators from the two countries had finalized a deal on the sharing the river’s waters, but it was not signed.

“Now, the experts of the countries should work out another sharing formula,” Khan said.

“Signing of the Teesta water-sharing treaty mainly goes to India. The friendly bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India came under question for not signing the agreement. So, we hope the Indian government would sign the deal as soon as possible, valuing the friendly ties between the two countries,” he said.

On Thursday, Banerjee along with other West Bengal officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from BenarNews.

In July, Shariar Kader Siddiky, the joint secretary in-charge of the finance ministry’s Economic Relations Division, said Chinese funding was needed for the Teesta and the eight other projects, calling them necessary.

“If we can implement the projects in time, we will not fall into a debt trap,” he told BenarNews when asked about a May 21 letter from the division outlining a proposal for the projects.

Paritosh Kanti Paul in Kolkata, India, contributed to this report.

Copyright ©2015-2020, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.

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India News Brief

23 September 2020

COVID-19 Total Cases:5,562,663  Deaths: 88,935

COVID-19 At a Glance 

The new guidelines issued by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on 29 August

Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from 7thSeptember 2020 in a graded manner, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA)/ Ministry of Railways (MOR), in consultation with MHA. In this regard, Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued by MOHUA.

Social/ academic/ sports/ entertainment/ cultural/ religious/ political functions and other congregations will be permitted with a ceiling of 101 persons, with effect from 21st September 2020. However, such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer.Open air theatres will be permitted to open with effect from 21stSeptember 2020.

Schools, colleges, educational and coaching institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity up to 30 September.
Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged. However, following will be permitted, in areas outside the Containment Zones only, with effect from 21stSeptember 2020 for which, SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW):

Cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres (excluding open air theatre) and similar places remain closed.

According to MHA directive, lockdown shall continue to be implemented strictly in the Containment Zones till 30th September, 2020.

COVID-19: Highlights 

Religious Places Visit: No Touching of Deity, No Sparkling of Holy Water No Prasada in Temples Wearing Mask Thermal Screening is a must 

Shopping Malls Visit: Elderly People With 65 Years of Age and Children Below 10 Years Are Advised to Stay at Home.

Restaurant and food courts in malls to operate at 50 per cent seating capacity with a mandatory distance of six feet between tables. No common prayer mats, physical offerings like prasad, or sprinkling of holy water, in places of worship. Age and health-based restrictions on stepping out of home. Masks to be mandatory, and the Aarogya Setu app 'recommended' for all.

Use of masks, thermal screening, social distancing and sanitisation, the guidelines  require people above 65 years of age, specially  people with comorbidities, pregnant woman, and children below the age of 10 years, to stay at home. Masks are mandatory at all times, including inside restaurants

Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Indian Health Ministry 

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed..

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they a.re developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

Our COVID-19 Stories

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