As Bangladesh raised Teesta waters issue in Modi-Hasina talks, PM sends message to Mamata

Bengladesh Prime Minister Hasina has requested PM Modi for early resolution of the Teesta waters dispute. Prime Minister Modi has assured Hasina that India is attentive to the importance of the problem and is functioning thereon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina during the virtual summit on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina discussed the issue of Teesta waters during the bilateral meeting on Thursday.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted the necessity for early signing of an interim agreement for sharing of the Teesta waters, as approved by both the governments in 2011. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated India’s sincere commitment and continued efforts of the govt of India therein regard,” said the India-Bangladesh joint statement.

Teesta water sharing issue isn’t just a diplomatic issue between India and Bangladesh, it’s also been a matter of contention between the Centre and West Bengal government.

The water-sharing deal was to possess been signed during the Dhaka visit of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2011. But West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee delayed the deal saying it might cause water shortage in North Bengal.

Teesta waters has been an election issue for both Mamata Banerjee and Sheikh Hasina. But in opposing the Teesta water-sharing pact, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee won’t be in line with the international convention.

It is also pertinent to mention that Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the virtual summit on Thursday used the Cooch Behar palace (Cooch Behar Rajbari) because the backdrop during his virtual summit.

Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday held a rally in North Bengal where she asked why TMC had won no seats from the districts there in 2019. The electoral battle has begun.

With border states, bordering countries play a crucial role within the elections, Teesta has become a crucial electoral issue both in West Bengal and Bangladesh. While both India and Bangladesh try to work on Teesta, both sides have decided to maneuver forward on cooperation on other rivers.

“The two leaders underscored the requirement for early conclusion of Framework of Interim Agreement on sharing of waters of six joint rivers, namely, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar,” said the India-Bangladesh joint statement.

India and Bangladesh even have decided that subsequent round of meetings of the Joint Rivers Commission should happen . “The two leaders recalled the positive contribution of the Joint Rivers Commission and looked forward to future round of Secretarial level JRC meeting at the earliest,” said the joint statement.

On cooperation in Kushiyara River waters for irrigation purposes, the statement said, “Bangladesh side requested the Indian side to tell its concerned border authorities to permit excavation work of the remaining portion of the Rahimpur Khal for utilization of Kushiyara River waters for irrigation purposes.”

Adding, “The Indian side was also requested to supply early concurrence on the proposed MoU to be signed between both countries for monitoring the withdrawal of water from the Kushiyara River by both the perimeters, pending signing of the Treaty/Agreement regarding sharing of water of the Kushiyara River.”