Outcome of Bengal polls will be key to Teesta water sharing issue

New Delhi, March 17: India and Bangladesh are keen to take the issue of sharing of river water forward. A high level meeting will be held in Delhi to look into the issue. While the issue of sharing of Teesta river water has remained unresolved for many years, both countries are hoping to strike a chord by reaching at a consensus on sharing of water of other rivers that flow in both countries. Over 50 rivers flow through both India and Bangladesh.

The emotive issue of sharing of river water will take centrestage ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka on March 26.

According to Daily Star, Indian Water Secretary Pankaj Kumar and Bangladesh’s Water Resources Ministry Secretary Kabir Bin Anwar will lead respective sides of the meeting.

“Our water secretary is already in Delhi for the water-secretary level meeting. Water sharing issues of six rivers among other things will be discussed,” the newspaper quoted Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen as saying.

Both countries are looking at a mechanism to be chalked out for sharing of water of other rivers such as Muhuri, Manu, Khowai, Dharla, Gumti and Dudhkumar.

Meanwhile, Dhaka is also keenly watching the outcome of West Bengal state elections as the south Asian country hopes for a resolution to the issue of sharing of Teesta river water. While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was keen to sign the Teesta water agreement in 2011, the move was vehemently opposed by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The river, which originates in the Himalayas in Sikkim flows through West Bengal and finally entering Bangladesh. The river water holds immense significance to both West Bengal and Bangladesh as lakhs of lives and livelihood are dependent on the sharing of the water.

“The issue has remained unresolved for many years, it is a sensitive issue for Bangladesh. While the two countries have shown the maturity to let the unresolved issues not come in the way of overall bilateral talks, this is important nonetheless and people from across the border are hoping that a change in the government may help in moving ahead,” an analyst on condition of anonymity told IndiaNarrative.com.

Banerjee has maintained that if the treaty is signed, West Bengal will not get a single drop.

Indian High Commission to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami has repeatedly said that while New Delhi is keen to sign the agreement, the state government of West Bengal has remained firm on its opposition to the move.

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