Yearbook of International Environmental Law - Vol. 7

By Günther Handl; Jutta Brunnée et al. | Go to book overview

by other NEMAP partners, including nongovernmental organizations, academics, journalists, lawyers, grassroots movements, and women's groups.


(3) International

In the past, unilateral withdrawals of water by India from the Ganges through the Farakka Dam created severe environmental crises in Bangladesh. The northern part of the country suffered most, due to the diversion of water from areas where the process of desertification had already begun. Some of the country's major rivers began to dry up, which adversely affected the irrigation facilities in vast areas.

Discussions and negotiations between the two countries did not result in an amicable solution until 12 December 1996, when India and Bangladesh reached a consensus on several major issues concerning water sharing. As a result, the long awaited (→) Bangladesh-India Water Treaty was signed. This treaty contains 12 clauses, with the first clause expressing India's commitment to providing Bangladesh with water through Farakka. Given the urgency of Bangladesh's situation and the need to protect the country from an ecological catastrophe, this treaty has been called the most significant environmental treaty ever signed by Bangladesh.

Mohiuddin Farooque
Syeda Rizwana Hasan


12. SOUTHEAST ASIA/ASEAN COUNTRIES

(1) The Right to Environmental Information

In June, Malaysia's High Court, in Kajing Tubek & Ors v. Ekran Bhd. & Ors, ruled that the gigantic Bakun dam and hydroelectric scheme in the jungles of Borneo did not comply with the country's Environmental Quality Act, which was "enacted to be applicable to the entire nation." The Court underscored the fact that the members of tribes whose lands will be flooded by the dam's reservoir had the right to see the environmental impact assessment (EIA) documents of the project and to have their views heard. The EIA processing of the $5.5 billion project had been transferred by the federal government to the jurisdiction of the state of Sarawak where environmental requirements are more relaxed. As a major shareholder in the venture, the state saw no merit in a public scrutiny and debate over the environmental impact statements.

The Bakun project, one of the biggest in Asia, includes a 200 meter high dam at the Rajang River generating 2,400 megawatts of power, of which more than half will be transmitted via undersea cables to peninsular Malaysia. It will flood about 270 square miles of tropical forest (the size of Singapore), force more than 9,000 members of 15 forest tribes to be relocated, and destroy a significant area of rainforest. What is most difficult to measure

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