Bangladesh will highlight the pending Teesta water sharing deal and maximum utilisation of the Ganges water in the upcoming meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) scheduled to be held in Delhi on August 25, high-ranking officials at the water resources and the foreign ministry told the FE.
Bangladesh is set to discuss 11 points in the meeting which has been pending for 12 years.
Apart from the Teesta deal and the Ganges water management, Bangladesh also wants to finalise an agreement on the joint water management of the six common rivers, namely Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudhkumar.
Commenting on the issue, State Minister for Water Resources Zahid Faruk said since Bangladesh and India enjoy the warmest ties, we expect some kind of breakthrough regarding the pending Teesta water sharing agreement in the upcoming JRC.
When asked whether expecting a deal on this water sharing will be realistic or not as it has been opposed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee since the beginning, the state minister said that it is the responsibility of the central government to convince the state government so that some kind of deal can be inked.
This long pending water sharing deal is crucial for thousands of farmers of the Teesta basin, he added.
On the issue of the joint management of the six common rivers the state minister said ‘we have completed exchanging information on these rivers and we hope that we can reach some kind of deal about these rivers.’
"But we also want to start the survey of another six rivers as the survey of six rivers is completed,” the minister said, arguing that by doing this both countries can advance their works on the 54 joint rivers.
However, the state minister pointed out that Bangladesh did not get info on the river protection works carried out by India in the upstream of the common rivers.
We sought the info but we have not got it. This is very important as such works in the upstream can cause erosion in the downstream, he explained.
About the Ganges water sharing, the state minister said since the landmark water sharing deal of the Ganges will be expired in the next four years, there is a need to renew the agreement.
We will request the Indian side to start preparatory works for this purpose, he added.
Apart from this, both countries need maximum utilisation of the Ganges water and Bangladesh will propose to start a joint project in this regard.
Another key issue will be to get no objection from India on dredging the Kushiyara river from where Bangladesh wants to withdraw 153 cusecs of water on the Indo-Bangladesh border near Jakiganj.
Bangladesh has a water pump to withdraw water from the river for irrigation of 5000 hectares of land.
We took an attempt to start the dredging to enable the pump house to withdraw water but the Indian side objected.
“We hope to reach an agreement with India on this issue so that we can start the dredging” he added.
Bangladesh has already agreed to provide India with water from the Feni river to ensure a smooth supply of drinking water to the people of Tripura.
He said that Bangladesh is always open-minded in resolving pending issues with its neighbour.