Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said that signing of the agreement on Teesta River water sharing with India is likely during the second tenure of Narendra Modi as Indian prime minister.
Congratulating Modi on Friday on his party’s win in the parliamentary polls for the second consecutive term, Momen said that India’s central government had approved [the agreement] quite ago, but it was pending due to an objection given by the government of West Bengal state.
‘I am hopeful that the Teesta River water sharing agreement would be signed this time of Modi’s government,’ the foreign minister said.
He made the comment while talking to reporters at his ancestral residence at Dhopa Dighirpar in Sylhet in the afternoon.
Stating that the relation between Bangladesh and India had reached an unparalleled height during the [past] tenure of the Modi government, he said that all kinds of work for signing the agreement on Teesta River water sharing had already been completed and the formal signing of the accord would be done soon.
‘Apart from the Teesta, there are 53 more common rivers between Bangladesh and India. The issue of having fair shares of water of these rivers can be settled through discussion with the government of Modi,’ Momen claimed.
Teesta is the most important river for the northeastern part of Bangladesh and it is the fourth largest river of the country. It originates in the Sikkim valley of the Himalayan range in India.
The flow of the river comes down from Sikkim to West Bengal, where India has built a barrage at Gazaldoba. From that point, 85 per cent of the Teesta water flow is reportedly diverted through a link canal to the upper Mahananda River, which falls into the Meichi River in Bihar that links the Fulhar River and reaches the Ganges River upstream of the Farakka Barrage.
India has plans to irrigate 9.22 lakh hectares of land and is reportedly increasing the withdrawal of water from the Teesta. Recently, the Indian area under irrigation with Teesta water has reached more than one lakh hectares, further depleting the river’s water for Bangladesh.
The irrigation project is adversely affecting about 21 million Bangladeshis living in the Teesta basin, while only 8 million people live in the West Bengal part of the basin and half a million in the Sikkim portion. The Bangladesh:India population ratio in the Teesta valley is 70:30.
Earlier, the foreign minister reached Sylhet from Dhaka for a two-day tour. He also attended an exchange of views with the mayor and councilors of Sylhet City Corporation at the Nagar Bhaban in the afternoon and then attended an iftar party in the city.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Foreign affairs