Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | ePaper

Water sharing of common rivers between BD and India

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BANGLADESH has requested India to hold a secretary-level meeting for resuming talks on water sharing of common rivers stalled for nine years, holding back the signing of Teesta deal and negotiations on six more rivers. Water resources secretary of Bangladesh in March formally had invited his Indian counterpart for an official meeting in Dhaka. The 'framework agreement' between Bangladesh and India, signed on September 2011, is expected to be the basis of the talks while signing of a deal on the Teesta and other common rivers and renewal of the Ganges water sharing treaty would also come up in the talks, the newspaper report said. The last water secretary-level meeting was held in January 2011.
With utter dismay we see that India has been denying Bangladesh the right to the water of shared rivers. India also denied that right to the lower riparian and termed the international rivers as its own rivers. Bangladesh has been negotiating for a long time with India for harnessing, developing, and equitably sharing waters of trans-boundary rivers. But Delhi paid no heed to it. Not only that, the water sharing has become a hot issue due to unplanned construction of dams, sluice gates, culverts by Indian government in the name of flood control. A number of canals, tributaries of major rivers in Bangladesh have become dry for the same reason.
India has been holding the chairmanship of the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Rivers Commission since 2010 in violation of Article 3 of the Statute of the Commission, which says, 'The chairmanship of the commission shall be held annually in turn by Bangladesh and India.' So far we know, Dhaka has sent at least 10 letters to Delhi since late 2010 for a water minister-level meeting but got no positive response.
There is an acute water shortage in the Teesta River due to unilateral withdrawal of water at different points by India. The reality is that, withdrawal of waters from all common rivers has been severely affecting Bangladesh's agriculture, environment and ecology.
Indian general election has concluded and all are eagerly waiting for the final result. BJP or Congress, whoever gets majority; we hope, the new Indian government will response positively to solve the water sharing problem.

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