Guwahati, Assam, India, 10 January, 2013 (IUCN): An international policy dialogue of experts and civil society members from Bangladesh and India in Assam on Thursday called for a techno-economic feasibility study in the Ashuganj-Karimganj river route along the Kushiyara River to extend the protocol route up to Silchar for regional connectivity. It also suggested installing night navigation facilities as a mandatory provision for both countries along the protocol routes to improve Inland Navigation and Integrated Water Resources Management Goals.
The Policy Dialogue on Trans-boundary Inland Navigation: A Way Forward also called for collaborative action to identify causes of deterioration of rivers and water traffic and approaches for improving and maintaining navigability in line with the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and sustainable navigation between the two neighbouring countries. After a day of inspiring and engaging discussions, the policy dialogue successfully concluded an elaborate set of policy recommendations.
Organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) the trans-boundary dialogue is part of IUCN’s project Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative. A range of stakeholders including Mr Junaid Ahmad Palak, Member of Parliament, Government of Bangladesh, Mr Arun Kumar Roy, Director, IWT, Guwahati, Mr Manas Kumar Saha, Director, IWAI, Government of India, Mr Md Alauddin, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh spoke at the occasion. It was also attended by representatives from private sector vessel operators of Bangladesh and India.
“India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers. There is huge potential for regional cooperation in the GBM (Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna) basin on a number of issues particularly the upgradation of the water ways”, says Mr Junaid Ahmad Palak, Member of Parliament, Government of Bangladesh.
Funded by Ecosystems for Life, a research was conducted by a trans-boundary joint research team from both Bangladesh and India following an agreed common methodology on “Convergence of Inland Navigation and Integrated Water Resources Management Goals”. The main objectives of the research were to identify the causes of deterioration of rivers and water traffic and recommend approaches for improving and maintaining navigability. The joint research team has put forward a set of policy recommendations for trans-boundary inland navigation between Bangladesh and India. These recommendations have been disseminated and shared with researchers, civil society as well as relevant government officials through workshops. With the aim of consolidating and advocating a course of action towards taking these policy options forward, Ecosystems for Life organized the policy dialogue on trans-boundary inland navigation at Guwahati (Assam).
“The study and the dialogue have produced a set of policy options that both countries could adopt for sustainable management of Inland Navigation. Stakeholders including the policy makers, research community, media and representatives from private sector operators suggested that the recommendations from the study should be discussed at a high level policy forum of both countries”, says Mr Ganesh Pangare, Head, Ecosystems and Livelihood Group, IUCN Asia.
Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative is a civil society led multi-stakeholder dialogue process to promote better understanding of the management of natural resources in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna region. The project works to develop a shared vision and understanding of food, livelihood and water security issues through collaborative research and studies, creation of a knowledge hub, developing research-based policy options and enhancing the capacity of civil society stakeholders to participate in the management of natural resources.
Ecosystems for Life focuses on five main areas of research: the links between food security, water productivity and poverty alleviation; adaptation to climate change; environmental security convergence of inland navigation and integrated water resources management; and conservation of ecosystems and habitats. These studies are conducted by research institutions and experts from both countries working together as Joint Research Teams (JRT).
This Initiative is being implemented by IUCN Country Offices in Bangladesh and India with support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the IUCN Asia Regional Office.