South Asia

Hasina’s India visit to focus on water-sharing beyond Teesta

NEW DELHI: As Teesta water sharing treaty remains in a political bind, India and Bangladesh have decided to move over to the larger issues of joint water-sharing and water management between the two countries when PM Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina meet here on September 6.
Given that the two neighbours have 54 rivers in the region that are common to people on both sides of the border, the two countries are working on an agreement on other big rivers like the Muhuri (flows out of Tripura) and Feni (in Tripura)-Kushiyara (in Bangladesh) that are shared by the two neighbours, besides a renewal of the Ganga Water Treaty slated for 2026.
With the possibility of a water treaty being finalised between the two countries, both governments are looking at information-sharing regarding common water resources, data sharing on floods and jointly managing natural disasters like floods and cyclones which are common to the region.
Teesta river water-sharing with Bangladesh had remained a contentious issue internally too between the Centre and Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal.
As a prelude to the Modi-Hasina meeting, the Joint River Commission (JRC) started deliberations here on Tuesday, meeting for the first time since 2010. The secretary-level meeting of JRC will be followed up by ministerial-level talks on Thursday.
Besides Teesta issue, Bangladesh will look for finalising a framework agreement on six common rivers — Monu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar — besides issues relating to the renewal of the Ganges water-sharing pact.
At the meeting, the two sides are expected to finalise a joint study on utilisation of the Ganga waters and an agreement on the withdrawal of water from Kushiyara river, according to sources in Dhaka.

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