India, Bangladesh hold talks on river water

New Delhi: More than two months after Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came here on a landmark visit, India and Bangladesh on Thursday held talks to thrash out an interim treaty on Teesta water sharing and issues relating to other rivers.

Water resources secretaries of the two countries met here in the morning, setting the stage for the ministerial-level Joint River Commission meeting later in the day.

The Indian side, led by Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, met the Bangladeshi delegation headed by Water Resource Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen in the two-day discussions. The commission last met in 2005.

“We are already getting 3,500 cubic feet per second (cusec) per day without asking for it and we certainly expect more than that from the coming talks,” said Sen, adding that he was hopeful of progress in the talks.

The Bangladesh delegation also included Mashiur Rahman, adviser to premier Sheikh Hasina, and Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.

“The focus of the meeting was on Teesta water sharing,” said India’s Water Resources Secretary U.N. Panjiyar.

“At present, Bangladesh receives almost all the water as it is not being used by India but after the ongoing construction of a barrage on the Teesta river is completed, some water will be utilised by us as well,” he added.

Other issues may include sharing of the flood forecast data, he said.

India has made it clear that West Bengal will have a crucial role in any accord on Teesta water-sharing as the river flows into Bangladesh from the Gajoldoba barrage point.

The Teesta water accord could be modelled on the Ganga Water Sharing Treaty signed in 1996 when the Awami League was in power in Bangladesh.

According to the Ganga treaty, if the water flow at Farakka point of the Ganga is 70,000 cusecs, Bangladesh and India share the water equally.

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