Teesta water sharing: PM urges early signing of interim agreement with India
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today stressed the need for the early signing of an interim agreement with India for sharing the water of river Teesta, as agreed upon by both governments in 2011.
The Teesta water-sharing issue was raised by Hasina during her virtual summit with Indian PM Narendra Modi.
In response, Modi "reiterated India's sincere commitment and continued efforts of the government of India in that regard," said a joint statement issued after the summit.
The Teesta treaty has been left in limbo for more than a decade due to the opposition of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The two leaders underscored the need for early conclusion of the framework of the interim agreement on water sharing of six shared rivers -- Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
The Bangladesh side requested the Indian side to inform its concerned border authorities to allow excavation work of the remaining portion of the Rahimpur Khal for utilisation of Kushiyara river waters for irrigation purposes.
The Indian side was also requested to provide early concurrence on the proposed MoU to be signed by the two countries so that both sides can monitor the withdrawal of water from Kushiyara, pending signing of the treaty regarding sharing of water of the river.
The two leaders recalled the positive contribution of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) and looked forward to the next round of Secretary-level JRC meeting at the earliest.
The issue of the Covid-19 pandemic also came up for discussion in the virtual summit.
Reiterating the highest priority India attaches to Bangladesh under India's Neighbourhood First policy, Modi assured Hasina that vaccines would be made available to Bangladesh as and when produced in India. Both leaders also noted the ongoing bilateral collaboration between the private sector in this area.
India also offered collaboration in therapeutics and partnership in vaccine production and Bangladesh appreciated India's conducting capacity-building courses for medical professionals in Bangla language.
Hasina requested the Indian side to consider Bangladesh's proposal to name the historic road from Mujib Nagar in Meherpur district to Nodia in India's West Bengal as "Shadhinota Shorok", commemorating the historic significance of the road during Bangladesh's Liberation War.
The PM appreciated the duty-free and quota-free access given to Bangladeshi exports to India under SAFTA since 2011, and both prime ministers emphasised on addressing issues of non-tariff barriers and trade facilitation, including port restrictions, procedural bottlenecks and quarantine restrictions so that both countries can take full advantage of SAFTA flexibility.
The Bangladesh side requested that as India's export of essential commodities to Bangladesh are an important factor influencing their domestic market, any amendments in export-import policy of the Government of India may be conveyed in advance. The Indian side took note of this request.
This assumes importance as Hasina had, during her visit to India in 2019, made public her unhappiness over India's ban on onion export which sent prices of the kitchen staple soaring.
Recognising the immense potential of bilateral economic and commercial ties, Hasina and Modi asked their officials to expeditiously conclude the ongoing joint study on the prospects of entering into a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
The two PMs welcomed the recent bilateral consultations on anti-dumping/anti-circumvention duties imposed on export of jute products from Bangladesh to India and expressed hope that the issues related to anti-dumping duty would be resolved expeditiously, according to the joint statement.