Deal on sharing Teesta water soon | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, September 11, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, September 11, 2009

Deal on sharing Teesta water soon

Dhaka won't hand over Anup Chetia, says Dipu Moni


Foreign Minister Dipu Moni yesterday said a treaty would soon be signed with India on sharing the water of common river Teesta.
"We discussed and agreed to sign a deal on sharing water of the river Teesta," Dipu Moni, who returned home on Thursday after a four-day visit to India, told journalists at the ministry.
"Both the sides agreed to expedite the ongoing negotiation process so that a treaty is signed soon," she said, adding that the deal might be signed when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would go on a visit to India.
Dipu Moni hoped that the agreement would be inked soon after the joint hydrological observation team comprising experts from Bangladesh and India prepared the draft on water availability and other related issues.
During dry season, the river Teesta faces water crunch as India has constructed Gozaldoba Barrage in the upstream and divert water from the common river that enters greater Rangpur region of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh and India had dialogues on sharing of water of the Teesta for years.
According to Bangladesh Water Development Board, Bangladesh's Teesta barrage (first phase) in the downstream covers irrigation of 750,000 hectares of land.
Asked whether Anup Chetia to be handed over to India, the foreign minister said Dhaka's agreement with New Delhi is only on transferring sentenced persons. “Anup Chetia has already finished his jail term and will not come under the purview of the agreement,” she said.
As per the agreement, Indian citizens sentenced in Bangladesh would be able to finish their rest of the jail terms in India if they apply to Bangladesh government. This goes vice versa for Bangladeshi prisoners in India.
Indian separatist leader Anup Chetia was caught in Bangladesh in 1997 for intruding into Bangladesh. He has recently finished his jail term.
Terming the four-day visit very successful the foreign minister said New Delhi would allow products from land-locked Nepal and Bhutan via India.
Dipu Moni said both the countries have agreed to discuss and resolve all the existing issues as a "package programme.”
All unresolved bilateral issues that include sharing of water of common rivers and extradition of criminals will be settled through discussion, said the foreign minister.
Dipu Moni said Bangladesh would have transit link to Nepal and Bhutan as per the latest agreement with India.
In return, India would be allowed to use Ashuganj port for only transporting sophisticated machinery to Tripura to set up a power plant there, she said.
Dipu Moni said India would sell Bangladesh 100 megawatts of electricity "on priority basis" after connecting the power grids of the two countries.
She said some important deals would be signed with New Delhi during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's upcoming visit to India.
On the controversial Tipaimukh dam, the foreign minister said the Indian premier and ministers gave assurance that India would not do anything that can be harmful to Bangladesh.
Dipu Moni said Bangladesh would soon send a letter of objection to the UN against India's maritime claims that overlap Bangladesh's maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.
Referring to the Akhaura-Agartala rail link, she said the Indian government would fund the project.
The foreign minister said the issue of improving the service of Dhaka-Kolkata passenger train had also been discussed.
“The Indian side has agreed to take initiative for completing customs and immigration formalities on the train to reduce travel time by five to six hours. But the modalities have to be figured out by the officials concerned of the two countries,” she added.
Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes, among others, was present at the briefing.

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