Prime Minister's Economic Affairs Adviser Mashiur Rahman yesterday said India has laws to deal with inter-state water sharing, but its attitude to international rivers is a “little ambivalent”.
“I have always been puzzled by India's approach to what is to be considered as international rivers,” he said at a meeting titled “Maritime Industry: India-Bangladesh Opportunities Ahead” organised by India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
He said India has an elaborate law regarding inter-state rivers. If one river runs through two or more states, each state has right to the water. And if there is dispute, there is a judicial procedure to resolve it.
Mashiur added that India adopted a 1935 Act giving more authority to the states on their share of river water.
“My feeling is that India's attitude to international rivers is a little ambivalent and uncertain,” he said at the event where India's Acting High Commissioner in Bangladesh Adarsh Swaika was present.
There is an Indus-basin agreement between Pakistan and India since 1960 under which river water is allocated to India, and there was “no tampering” to it even during the worst crisis over Kashmir, he said.
If the same attitude is applied to common rivers on the eastern side, then both India and Bangladesh would get natural share of water from the rivers that are flowing between the two countries, Mashiur observed.
Discussants at the event stressed on utilising waterways to transport cargoes between Bangladesh and India to reduce cost.
One litre of fuel moves 24 tonnes of cargo per km on road, 85 tonnes per km on rail, and 105 tonnes per km on water, said Tariq Karim, a former ambassador.
Adarsh Swaika, earlier in the programme, said coastal shipping has started between the two nations, and India looks forward to signing standard operating procedure to use Mongla and Chattogram ports. He also said the first river cruise between India and Bangladesh will begin in March.