PM Modi assures Bangladesh Opposition party of 'doing best' on water-sharing deal
Dhaka, Mar 26: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday assured Bangladesh's main parliamentary Opposition Jatiya Party of doing his best to ink the long-awaited deal over the Teesta and other common rivers. His comments came during a meeting with the Jatiya Party leaders.
PM Modi is here on a two-day visit to attend the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the country's independence, the birth centenary of 'Bangabandhu' Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hold talks with his counterpart Sheikh Hasina. Jatiya Party's chief patron Raushan Ershad led the four-member delegation in the meeting with PM Modi at the Sonargaon Hotel.
The meeting lasted for 25 minutes. The Jatiya Party delegation during the meeting raised the longstanding issue of resolving the water-sharing of Teesta and other 54 common rivers with India.
"I have already made the commitment on inking a treaty on water-sharing of Teesta River. Discussions at the technical level are underway over this. We must sign the treaty," Jatiya Party Secretary General Ziauddin Ahmed Bablu quoting the Indian premier as saying.
Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader told a newspaper that Modi simultaneously assured that "we will do whatever is necessary for our friendly country Bangladesh". Quader said his party requested the Indian premier to introduce an on-arrival visa for Bangladeshis, increase people-to-people connectivity and scholarships for Bangladeshi students.
Jatiya Party in a statement said its leaders reminded Modi that outstanding issues involving the common rivers must be resolved as "water, air and birds" are above political boundaries. "This was the comment made by Mr Narendra Modi himself during his 2019 Bangladesh tour," Bablu said.
Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and other senior officials were present during the meeting. India and Bangladesh share 54 common streams with the Teesta being a major one. The Teesta river originates in Sikkim, flows through the northern parts of West Bengal, before entering Bangladesh and joining the Brahmaputra river.
The flow of the river is crucial for Bangladesh from December to March during which the country requires 50 per cent of the river's water supply. The Teesta deal was set to be signed during then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September, 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
Banarjee had expressed strong reservations against giving Bangladesh a greater share of water. On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi will hold talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina when all issues related to bilateral concerns are expected to be discussed, according to Bangladesh foreign ministry officials.