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Northwest facing severe water crisis

Arctic Blue Waters brings todays news on the increassing water crisis from The Daily Star.

Residents of Bangladesh's northwestern region are suffering from severe water crisis for the excessive extraction of groundwater by the government and non-government organisations in the absence of a centralised water management system and non-implementation of the water act, speakers told a workshop yesterday.

The workshop was organised in a Rajshahi city restaurant marking the inauguration of a three-year Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) project undertaken by the Development Association for Self-reliance, Communication and Health (DASCOH) and Switzerland Red Cross.

Focused on Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj districts, the project would recommend ways for coordinated water management and for implementing the act, said State Minister for Water Resources Muhammad Nazrul Islam as chief guest.

Moreover, with the feasibility study and designs complete, tender for the construction of the Ganges barrage will be floated soon with funds from Japan, he said, hoping to get funds from China and World Bank.

The barrage, estimated to cost around

Tk 32,000 crore, will retain water of the trans-boundary Ganges, known as the Padma in Bangladesh, on a 118 kilometre long water reservoir, he said.

Once complete, it would help replenish aquifers, check rising salinity and revive the rivers, he added.

The reservoir would help implement the Tk 1,600 crore North Rajshahi Irrigation Project under which 74,800 hectares of land would be used to produce an additional 2.11 lakh metric tonnes of rice, said Nazrul.

Special guest Rajshahi lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha said Barind Multipurpose Development Authority, which uses groundwater for irrigation, was also partially responsible for the rapid water depletion.

Golam Sabbir Sattar of Rajshahi University suggested involving the locals and water researchers and identifying the water stress areas in the IWRM project.

Upazila chairmen, municipality mayors, upazila nirbahi officers, upazila parishad chairmen, civil society members, university teachers, researchers, journalists and human rights activists attended the workshop.

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