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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Teesta deal yet unsettled Inking of a clear deal has unfortunately been delayed yet again

“Highly productive and fruitful” talks are meant to deliver results, and not to procrastinate in making closing decisions. The recently ended Indo-Bangla foreign secretary-level talks have ended by holding talks and discussing a number of bilateral issues but, by sidelining the issue of implementing the fair share of Teesta river water. However, despite Bangladesh’s repeated attempts the meeting held in Delhi actually didn’t bear fruit, at least on the topic of Teesta deal, and have kept the issue pending for future discussions.

In the wake of successful transfer and exchange of the long awaited undecided enclaves last year, we were hopeful to see the Teesta deal to materialise within 2015, but that didn’t happen mainly due to India’s domestic political disputes and internal conflicts of interests among its states.
Apparently Bangladesh will have to wait longer to get her correct share of water. The abrupt drying up and near death situation of the once mighty Teesta has already affected the lives and livelihood of the northern region severely. Also the environment and ecology of that region is fast changing in the course of a desertification process. Barely 450 cusecs of water was available at Teesta’s Dalia point in the first 10 days of February last year and now that amount has dwindled even further. However, the situation cannot wait to get worse for further “fruitful bilateral meetings and dialogues”. Moreover, we expect our biggest neighbour to comprehend the gravity of a geographical calamity it has created for us.
Nevertheless, coupled with the West Bengal Chief Minister Delhi should also take this into serious consideration. Promised by the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and assured by the current PM Narndra Modi , the Teesta deal shouldn’t have taken longer to materialize, though we are fully aware of the causes behind its delay.
Placing the harsh realities of India’s internal disagreements on top, why should Bangladesh be a victim of it? Moreover, she is not asking the share of water to be judged from humanitarian perspectives, she is demanding for something which is naturally and lawfully hers.
India being on the upper riparian has to decide fast and realistically to implement the Teesta deal before our northern region turns into a desert. From the last secretary level talks our Indian counterparts, though edgy but welcomed open discussions on joint water resources management. Both sides are also working on a meeting at the ministerial-level combining with Joint River Commissions. This meeting should take place soon and be made more regular.
Given the history of our friendly and cooperative relations our neighbour has to acknowledge our equitable rights over all Trans-boundary rivers including Teesta and fast track processes to realize equivalent water sharing.
Water cannot be a political issue.

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