Responding to Bangladesh's concern over drastic reduction in the flow of water in the Teesta, India yesterday agreed to the proposal of sending members of Joint River Commission and experts to Gajaldoba in West Bengal soon.
The two sides agreed at a meeting between visiting Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and his Indian counterpart Sujatha Singh at the South Block in New Delhi.
The issue of water flow in the Teesta figured prominently in talks between the two foreign secretaries, just a day after Shahidul had flagged Bangladesh's concern over the issue during his meeting with Indian Water Resources Secretary Alok Rawat.
Gajaldoba is the point where Teesta, which originates in Sikkim state in India, enters Bangladesh flowing through West Bengal.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary told a selected group of reporters that India had assured him that there would be no uncertainties in bilateral relations even if there is a change of government in Delhi after the parliamentary elections in April-May.
Most opinion polls project BJP-led NDA to come to power in the elections after the ten-year rule by Congress-led UPA.
There are speculations in some quarters in Bangladesh about the possible impact on India-Bangladesh relations in the event of a change of guard in India after the elections.
On the second day of his four-day maiden official visit to India, Bangladesh foreign secretary called on India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, and met National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, and secretary to the petroleum and natural gas ministry beside the meeting with Sujatha Singh.
Talking to a selected group of reporters after his meeting with Shahidul Haque in the afternoon, Khurshid said: "Bangladesh is an important and valuable neighbour. We are very grateful to the Bangladesh government for its support to India. We are extremely supportive of Bangladesh government."
In the morning, Bangladesh foreign secretary met Sujatha Singh for foreign office consultations where a number of key issues were discussed.
The focus of discussions was on trade, border security, water issues, power and Teesta water-sharing accord and decreasing water level in Teesta.
In her meeting with Shahidul, Indian foreign secretary proposed sector-wise meeting at the level of joint secretaries to remove all hurdles and irritants, diplomatic sources said.
This would help address day-to-day problems that affect various sectors, sources said, adding that the Bangladesh side had positively received the suggestion.
The current meetings between BGB and BSF had given "a lot of results", the sources said, adding that it had been decided to have more meetings to remove any misunderstanding.
After meeting with Khurshid, Shahidul told reporters that there had been good progress with regard to supply of 100MW power from Palatana in Tripura state of India and 500MW power from Baharampur in West Bengal to power-deficit Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh High Commission in India in a statement late last night said Shahidul Haque appreciated India's efforts to exercise utmost restraint regarding killing of Bangladesh nationals along the border and expressed the hope that these would bring down the killing to zero.
The Indian foreign secretary responded that sustained efforts had significantly reduced the number of killing but even a single killing is regrettable. She reiterated the commitment of the highest level of India to bring down the killings to zero.
In another development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday alleged the federal Indian government had clandestinely released water from the Farakka Barrage and Teesta river to Bangladesh without informing her state, depriving its people of irrigation and drinking water.
"Why was Farakka [barrage] sluice gates broken and Bhagirathi river water given away? Teesta river has also dried up," the Trinamool Congress leader questioned at a meeting of Trinamool Congress workers' in Murshidabad district.
"In a planned way, Teesta water was also released keeping us in the dark. We had said that through negotiation, West Bengal will do as much as it can."
Clarifying that she had nothing against Bangladesh, the chief minister said "We love Bangladesh. So many people from the other side have come and reside here.
"I am not against them. I am talking about the federal government's role…. I have no objection if water is released through agreement and with the state's consent."