India seeks to engage bordering states in finalising deal 

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 00:10, Jan 07,2021


The Indian government on Wednesday expressed intent to engage its states bordering with Bangladesh in the process of finalising a framework agreement on sharing of waters of six common rivers.

The Indian side informed Bangladesh counterpart about the intention in a meeting at the level of members of the Joint Rivers Commission of the two countries, officials said.

‘The Indian government has sought to engage the bordering states in the process of finalising the framework agreement with Bangladesh on sharing of waters of six common rivers to avoid untoward delay in signing the agreement,’ a water resources ministry official told New Age after the two-day meeting held virtually.

The two sides have discussed about the technicalities of the principles of signing a framework agreement for the sharing of waters of Manu, Muhuri, Gomti, Dharla, Dudhkumar and Khowai rivers in line with the instructions of the prime ministers during a visit of Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in Dhaka in 2011, a Bangladesh delegation member said.

Both the sides have sought detailed information on the withdrawal of waters upstream and downstream of the six rivers keeping in considerations the potentials of basin-wise management of the rivers ensuring environmental flows and sediment management, officials said.

‘We reached a convergence on a framework agreement,’ M Mahmudur Rahman, Bangladesh member of the Joint Rivers Commission, told New Age.

‘We, however, require more data for comprehensive assessments for presenting things for considerations at the highest political levels,’ he said.

Indian water resources ministry commissioner Atul Jain led his country’s delegation in the meeting.

On Tuesday, the commission assessed the sharing of the water of the River Ganges, Padma in Bangladesh, in 2020 under an agreement signed in 1996.

The meeting took place after three years in violation of the JRC statute that requires the commission to meet ‘generally four times a year.’

The JRC meeting at the level of members is expected to create grounds for a water secretary-level meeting at the earliest in compliance with the instructions given by the prime ministers of the two countries in a meeting held virtually on December 17.

The two countries are yet to make a move for signing an agreement on sharing of the water of the River Teesta despite repeated shows of support by the top leaders from both the sides.

Bangladesh and India share at least 54 common rivers and the two countries have an agreement on sharing of the water of the River Ganges signed in 1996.

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