Dhaka talks water with Delhi Mar 16

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury | Published: 23:55, Mar 07,2021


The water resources secretaries of Bangladesh and India would hold a meeting on March 16 in New Delhi.

Water resources secretary Kabir Bin Anwar would lead a delegation to New Delhi at the invitation of his Indian counterpart Pankaj Kumar for the meeting, according to water resources ministry officials.

The two sides are likely to set grounds for a ministerial-level meeting of the joint rivers commission at the earliest as sought by Bangladesh for facilitating signing of instruments on sharing of water of a few common rivers, they said.

Experts from both sides have been in discussions for about a decade on technicalities of the principles of signing a framework agreement for the sharing of waters of six common rivers — Manu, Muhuri, Gomti, Dharla, Dudhkumar and Khowai — in line with the instructions of the prime ministers issued during a visit of the then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in Dhaka in 2011.

The two countries have 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.

A 50:50 water sharing formula, including a provision for keeping 20 per cent water of Teesta as environmental flow, was agreed between India and Bangladesh in 2010 at the level of water secretaries.

India has held back the signing of an agreement on the sharing of Teesta water for over a decade out of ‘domestic compulsions’.

Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar in Dhaka on March 4 said that there was no change in the Indian position on matters involving the Teesta.

However, Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2019, allowing India on humanitarian grounds to withdraw 1.82 cusec of water from the River Feni for drinking purpose of people of Sabroom town of Tripura.

India was seeking a permanent mechanism with signing a separate interim deal on water withdrawal from the Feni river.

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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