The issues of trans-boundary inland navigation in Bangladesh and India should be tackled within the framework of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), experts suggested at an international workshop organized by IUCN. They stressed the urgent need for effective policy implementation through collaborative actions.
The day long workshop titled ‘International Workshop on Trans-boundary Inland Navigation: Joint Research Dissemination and Policy Dialogue’ was part of the research and dialogue process initiated by IUCN through its project Ecosystems for Life: A Bangladesh-India Initiative (E4L). Attended by about 25 participants, the workshop provided an opportunity for the joint research team comprising experts from Bangladesh and India to present their findings and policy options regarding trans-boundary inland navigation issues. A variety of issues were identified relating to river morphology, dredging and other navigability and administrative issues.
The main objective of the joint research, presented at the workshop, was to identify the causes of deteriorating conditions of the rivers affecting navigation. The research also aimed to identify approaches for improving and maintaining navigability, in-line with integrated resource management principles. Some of the recommendations of the workshop include:
- Navigability of inland waters need improvements, e.g. through installation of night navigation equipment and dredging.
- All the physical interventions to improve and maintain navigability should be within an IWRM framework.
- Dredging operations need proper, integrated, preparatory studies, taking into account i.e. river morphology, ecosystems and the management of the dredged material.
- Improvements and updates of the Bangladesh-India Protocol are suggested, including efficiency measures and prolonging its term to five years to provide more security to private sector investments.
The workshop benefitted from the presence of private sector representatives from both countries. The workshop revealed that the issues of inland navigation are quite clear and that there is an urgent need that these are addressed and resolved through collaboration between the governments in the two countries.
The participants suggested that the Ecosystems for Life Initiative should continue to provide its significant added value through facilitating trans-boundary civil and private sector dialogue and providing input to the governmental process.