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We Had a River Named Tista

Riadul Islam Dip

The river Tista, has become a mere skeleton of its former self. In 2013, I was first exposed to the Tista river basin. What I saw compelled me to tell the story of this once magnificent river.
India has embarked on building dams, diverting water and reportedly blocking not only Tista's water, but also the water of most of the trans-boundary rivers flowing into Bangladesh.Tista is the fourth major river of Bangladesh. It is also the lifeline of the northern regions of the country. Since India has been depriving Bangladesh from the water of the trans-boundary Rivers, vast areas of land along the banks of the rivers are going through desertification. Agriculture has been drastically affected, and life in those regions has shifted dramatically.
Tista meant life for the people of the arid northern part of Bengal – she was their Ganges. Tista represented everything that nature had to officer. The Rajbangshi community worshipped “Goddess Tista” – the mother figure that they believed bestowed them with fertility, prosperity and welfare.
The fate of an agreement regarding the sharing of the water of Tista has been uncertain for many decades. It is foolish to hope that India, who has kept on making vague promises, will respect Bangladesh's demand for a fair share of water. Twelve years have passed since the Ganges water sharing treaty was passed. With just 3 years left of that treaty and Bangladesh still craving for its fair share, the Tista treaty looks like a mirage.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2014

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