The Financial Express

Beijing now spotlights $1.0b Teesta project

BD-China joint economic cooperation meet ahead

| Updated: May 07, 2022 18:10:37

Beijing now spotlights $1.0b Teesta project

The much-talked-about multipurpose project on Teesta river management is now considered a priority one by China and the authorities in Beijing are tasked with its evaluation, competent sources said.

Bangladesh has sought US$938.27 million in loan from China to implement the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration project, which reportedly causes unease to India.

The project's feasibility study had been completed by Power Construction Corporation of China (Powerchina) two years ago and the works would start after the signing of the loan agreement, officials said.

Bangladesh, two years back, mooted a proposal for implementing the one-billion-dollar project under Chinese funding as the water-sharing treaty on this fourth-largest trans-boundary river with neighbouring India "could not be materialised despite a decade-long wait".

The Teesta project was not included in the 27 projects for which MoU was signed under a line of credit between the two countries during Chinese President Xi Jinping's Bangladesh visit in 2016.

It was incorporated later through replacing another project, the sources said, adding that "delay in the signing of the Teesta water-sharing deal prompted Bangladesh to go for this ambitious but essential project".

In a recent meeting held between Bangladesh and China, the Chinese side informed the Bangladesh side that two projects, including the Teesta river project, was being considered by them as priority projects, officials concerned told the FE.

The other one is the Sewage Collection System under Dasherkandi STP catchment of Dhaka City Project, they added.

Under the Teesta Project, massive drainage work will be done along the 115 miles of Teesta runs inside the Bangladesh border to deepen the depth of the mid-river bed.

A 115-kilometre four-lane road will be constructed along both banks of the river, officials said, adding that at various points barrage-cum-road will be constructed to improve the communications system around the two banks of the mighty river.

"A big reservoir will be constructed to conserve huge surplus water that flows through the river every monsoon to ensure water supply for irrigation during the dry season," says one official.

The major features of the megaproject are: 108-kilometre river dredging, 173km river embankments on both sides, construction of satellite cities on both banks, and preservation of asset worth BDT1130 billion.

Implementation of the project is projected to create around 800,000 jobs, said Water Development Board officials involved with the project

Originating in Sikkim and entering Bangladesh through Lalmonirhat, the 315-kilometre-long river travels 153 kilometres through half a dozen other northern districts, including Rangpur, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Kurigram, before merging with the Jamuna at Fulchhari.

Meanwhile, both Bangladesh and China have decided to hold the 15th meeting of the Joint Economic Commission sometime this year in virtual format -- after a gap of five years.

The last such meeting was held in 2016 in Dhaka. A Chinese minister will lead the Chinese delegation in the meeting, sources said.

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