Bangladesh keen for joint basin management with India: Envoy

Agartala, Jan 29 (IANS) Bangladesh is keen to set up a joint basin management system with India for equitable use of waters of the common rivers, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali said here on Friday.

“Bangladesh government wanted to set up a joint basin management method with India for reasonable use of waters of the common rivers flowing between the two countries,” Ali told reporters.

He said: “Pani (water) is our life, our progress, our food and everything. We are unable to hold the entire water including rain water. Ideal use of water is necessary for growth. The navigation of the rivers is declining.”

“If India and Bangladesh properly exploit the waters, share other products and help each other, both neighbours would achieve a win-win position. Trade between the two countries are rising, cooperation is broadening.”

Quoting Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Ali, who had earlier served as the foreign secretary of Bangladesh, said that India-Bangladesh friendship now at a golden stage and current relationship is at the best ever.

To a question, the visiting envoy said that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already declared that a consortium could be formed to use the Chittagong international sea ports and other ports by the neighbouring countries including India.

“Our prime minister has already announced to restore all railways, road and water connectivity exists until 1965 and even before that. Our government is in favour of operationalising road, rail, waterways and air connectivity between India, Bangladesh and other neighbouring nations.”

Ali, who has served as the Bangladesh Ambassador to Bhutan, Iran and France, and also worked at Bangladesh missions in Washington, Warsaw, New Delhi and Jeddah in different capacities, said that Bangladesh is the second largest country after China in manufacturing readymade garments and these can be traded between India and Bangladesh for each other profit.

Highlighting his country’s growth in recent decades, Ali, who had joined the erstwhile Pakistan Foreign Service in 1968 and declared his allegiance to the Bangladesh government-in-exile while working at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington in 1971, said that Bangladesh had produced 12 million tonne foodgrain in 1971 and now it has increased to 40 million tonnes.

“Though like other countries, Bangladesh has been losing 2.5 lakh acres of farm land every year, the country is now not only comfortable to feed its 160 million people, but also exporting foodgrain to other countries,” said Ali, who arrived here on Thursday on a three day visit to the northeastern state and held meeting with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and attended several programmes.

To a question, Ali, accompanied by other foreign ministry officials, said that Bangladesh prime minister has already announced that the country’s soil would not be allowed to use by the inimical elements or terrorist outfits against any neighbouring country, specially against India.

“To improve the people to people relations, Bangladesh is further simplifying the procedure to issue visa to Indians willing to visit that country. Visas with five years term are being issued to traders and businessmen to facilitate their frequent visit to Bangladesh,” he added.

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