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Challenges to environmental security in the context of India–Bangladesh transboundary water relations

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Abstract

The transboundary water regime between India and Bangladesh has not been free from challenges. This paper presents the various challenges to environmental security in the context of hydro-political relations between the two nations of South Asia. The paper defines environmental security in its perfect form as the state of “absence of conflicts, explicit or latent” in the socio-ecological-economic space of human existence, and defines the spatial scope of transboundary waters in the present study as the physical extent of the Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna basin, with focus on the movement of water and sediments generated and transported by its flows. The paper then moves on to identify and discuss the ecosystem processes and services provided by the flows, highlights the critical linkages among ecosystem services and livelihoods, and emphasizes that the dominating perceptions of reductionist engineering have generated a hydro-political situation of disputes, over the sharing of the lean flow in one of the numerous transboundary rivers. The need is to enhance the priority of ensuring overall environmental security related to the transboundary flows. By addressing the limitations of the reductionist engineering vision of transboundary waters, this paper emphasizes on the need for acknowledging the linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being for environmental security.

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Acknowledgments

The author acknowledges Prof. Jayanta Bandyopadhyay for his comments on a previous draft of this paper, Late Prof. Pranab Ray for his help with the hydrographs, the project team of “The Hostile Waters”, and Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata, for hosting the project. Comments from anonymous reviewers have been helpful in sharpening the arguments.

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Correspondence to Nilanjan Ghosh.

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This article is dedicated to the fond memory of Late Prof. Pranab Ray.

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Ghosh, N. Challenges to environmental security in the context of India–Bangladesh transboundary water relations. Decision 42, 211–228 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40622-015-0082-4

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