Trans-boundary Rivers

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Trans-boundary Rivers A Trans-boundary river is a river that crosses at least one political border, either a border within a nation or an international boundary. There are presently some 260 transboundary river basins around the world, covering 45% of the land surface of the earth. Bangladesh is traversed with the greatest number of these rivers, almost exclusively trans international. A total of 58 major rivers of Bangladesh have entered the country either from India or from Myanmar. Hydrologically and politically, these 58 trans-boundary rivers are very significant as they carry a lot of sediments to help land accretion in the estuarine region but also raise riverbeds to cause floods. The countries upstream often do not care for international conventions of water sharing and this leads to disputes with complex political implications.

India and Bangladesh share 54 common rivers of which agreement has been reached only on sharing of waters of the river Ganga. The India-Bangladesh Treaty on the Sharing of Ganga Waters was signed on December 12th 1996 and is based on a sharing formula of the flows measured at Farakka, during the lean season each year, from 1st January to 31st May. The 30-year Treaty is renewable by mutual consent. The two countries have a bilateral Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) that was established in June 1972 to maintain liaison between the two countries to maximize benefits from common river systems, formulation of flood control works, formulation of proposals on advance flood warnings, flood forecasting and cyclone warning. The last meeting of JRC took place in Dhaka in September 2005. In September 2006, the Water Resources Ministers of both the countries jointly visited some river sites in both countries and discussed issues relating to riverbank protection, minor lift irrigation and drinking water schemes.

The trans-boundary rivers of Bangladesh and the names of the border districts are as follows:

No. Rivers Districts bordering India
1. Raymangal Satkhira
2. Ichamati-Kalindi Satkhira
3. Betna-Kodalia Jessore
4. Bhairab-Kobadak Meherpur
5. Mathavanga Kushtia, Meherpur
6. Ganges Nawabganj
7. Pagla Nawabganj
8. Atrai Dinajpur, Naogaon
9. Punarbhaba Dinajpur, Naogaon
10. Tentulia Dinajpur
11. Tangon Dinajpur
12. Kulik or Kokil Thakurgaon
13. Nagar Thakurgaon
14. Mahananda Panchagarh, Nawabganj
15. Dahuk Panchagarh
16. Karatoya Panchagarh
17. Talma Panchagarh
18. Ghoramara Panchagarh, Nilphamari
19. Deonai-Jamuneshwari Nilphamari
20. Buri Tista Nilphamari
21. Tista Nilphamari
22. Dharla Lalmonirhat
23. Dudhkumar Kurigram
24. Brahmaputra Kurigram
25. Jinjiram Kurigram
26. Chillakhali Sherpur
27. Vogai Sherpur
28. Nitai Mymensingh
29. Someshwari Netrokona
30. Jadukata Sunamganj
31. Damalia/Jalukhali Sunamganj
32. Nawagang Sunamganj
33. Umiam Sunamganj
34. Dhala Sylhet
35. Piyain Sylhet
36. Shari-Goyain Sylhet
37. Surma Sylhet
38. Kushiyara Sylhet
39. Sonai-Bardal Sylhet
40. Juri Maulvi Bazar
41. Manu Maulvi Bazar
42. Dhalai Maulvi Bazar
43. Longla Maulvi Bazar
44. Khowai Habiganj
45. Sutang Habiganj
46. Sonai Habiganj
47. Haora Brahmanbaria
48. Bijoni Brahmanbaria
49. Salda Brahmanbaria
50. Gumti Comilla
51. Kakrai-Dakatia Comilla
52. Silonia Feni
53. Muhuri Feni
54. Feni Khagrachhari
55. Karnafuli Rangamati
Rivers Districts bordering Myanmar
56. Sangu Bandarban
57. Matamuhuri Bandarban
58 Naf Cox's Bazar

Transboundary water disputes occur whenever demand for water is shared by any sets of interests, be they political, economic, environmental, or legal. Conflicts over shared water resources occur at multiple scales, from sets of individual irrigators, to urban versus rural uses, to nations that straddle international waterways. The issue of managing international rivers would be more convenient had there been an international government or an overarching authority that could oversee such task. However, the international system remain anarchical without a clear set of laws for states to follow. The principles of international law applicable to the use of transboundary resources like rivers are many and often contradictory. Conflicts over the use of water resources are growing where population pressures and competing demand for resources are rising. However research has been going on by several workers over the world in order to identify the nature of disputes and to find out their possible resolution. [Masud Hasan Chowdhury]