Challenges and Conflicts of Transboundary Rivers: a Case Study of the Ganges River (PAP014777)
K B M SHAFIUDDIN
Floods in a changing climate
Water is among the most shared of all resources on earth and mostly from trans-boundary rivers. The world's 263 transboundary lakes and river basins cover nearly half of the Earth's land surface. The Ganges is the third largest river in the World by discharge. It is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand with tributaries joining from Nepal, and then the combined river surge flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it finally empties into the Bay of Bengal. The basin comprises semi-arid valleys in the rain shadow north of the Himalaya, densely forested mountains south of the highest ranges - ideal for storage dams and reservoirs, the scrubby shiwalik foothills and the fertile Gangetic plains. The flood flow generates in the Ganges basin, nearly 90% being in India and Nepal and just before outfalling it passes over the flat deltaic plains of Bangladesh of less than 10% share of the basin. It can be argued that Bangladesh, being responsible for only 10% of the basin in the lower riperian suffers from the collosal flood damages for the entire flood flow generated in the basin in India where as transnational cooperation for flood mitigation is non-existant. This study looks at the monumental legacies of flood damages every year from the uncontrolled Indian flood flows entering into Bangladesh and creating an extreme flood situation and sediment loads. When the intense rainfall and tidal effects coincide, it makes even worse. Billions of dollars had been and are being spent for decades with structural and non-structural flood mitigation measures that Bangadesh can hardly afford without the funding from World bank and other agencies; yet sustainable solutions is far from reality. This adverse situation could possibly be saved provided good freindly and neighbourly hand-shakes from the co-riparean countries are extended for mutual benefit. Engineering solutions are quite possible to detain the flood flows in the wet season in the hilly terrains of Nepal and India by constructing multi-purpose dams and flood detention reservoirs. Besides flood mitigation, there could also be huge and many-fold benefits of hydropower generation, water storage for irrigation use, aquaculture, recreation & tourism, sustainable ecosystem, etc. for the riparean countries contributing to lasting peace, development and sustainability. All needed is a great political will from participating countries.