Zia criticises India's Tipaimukh dam project again

Zia alleged at a rally on Sunday that India was building the dam "step by step", contravening a promise its Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made to his counterpart Sheikh Hasina at a meeting on the sidelines of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit that New Delhi would do nothing to hurt Dhaka's interests.

"Where is... that assurance?" she asked of Manmohan Singh, according to United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency.

She blessed a three-day long march towards Tipaimukh Aug 8 from the Central Shaheed Minar (martyrs' memorial) in Dhaka to press the Indian government to stop the controversial dam project.

The route of the motorcade will be Dhaka-Moulvibazar-Sylhet-Zakiganj-Tipaimukh (India), the Daily Star said Monday.

The march is being organised by the Tipaimukh Dam Prevention Committee (TDPC) and Sylhet Division Development Action Council (SDDAC).

Zia, however, refused to join the protest.

"When people will build up resistance house to house and come to the street, then it'll be the real time. That time has not yet come," she told the organisers who sought politicians' participation in the long-march.

Former prime minister Zia unveiled her plans to mobilise people at home and international opinion even as a parliamentary team that visited India returned without being able to land at the site of the proposed dam over Barak river in Manipur state.

Efforts to land the 11-member team failed on two occasions last week due to inclement weather.

Team leader and former water resource minister Abdur Razzak said that he would return at a future date to make an on-the-spot study of the dam project.

Zia and her Islamist ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have joined a section of environmentalists and NGOs to allege that the dam would have an adverse impact on Bangladesh's environment.

India denies this and invited the parliamentary team to visit. Zia and her allies boycotted the visit alleging that the water resource experts on the team were not "neutral".

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