Under pressure to deliver the Teesta river water-sharing agreement with India, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged counterpart Manmohan Singh to ink the pact soonest because it was “good for the long run”.
Hasina raised the Teesta issue when the two leaders met on the sidelines of the third BIMSTEC summit. The signing of the agreement was stalled in 2011 after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raised objections.
“The Prime Minister said it was a difficult matter and he was trying to build consensus at home (on the river-sharing pact)… She said the agreement must be signed because it was good for the long run,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters after the meeting. Earlier, while addressing the summit of regional leaders that included Singh, Hasina said “modalities need to be found for sharing water resources, especially common rivers”.
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She cited the example of the 30-year Ganges water-sharing treaty between India and Bangladesh and said “others would follow soon”.
The Ganges treaty of 1996 remains the only comprehensive river pact between the two countries though they share 54 rivers. In September 2011, Mamata Banerjee scuttled the Teesta deal.
She refused to accompany the Prime Minister to Bangladesh where he had hoped to ink the deal. The government later said nothing would be done without consulting the West Bengal government.
With its source in the eastern Himalayas, the Teesta flows through Sikkim and West Bengal before entering Bangladesh where it eventually merges with the Brahmaputra.
In her summit address, Hasina also referred to “the recent experience of cross-border power sharing between Bangladesh and India” and said there was need to develop regional energy grids and energy markets.
India, Lanka to be in touch on Geneva draft
Hours after a draft resolution against Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes against Tamils was circulated at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to stay in touch on the matter.
The resolution, sponsored by the US, UK, Mauritius, Macedonia and Montenegro, will be put to vote later this month. The draft refers to the report by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who called for an international probe into allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka during the final battle with the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
“The two sides agreed to stay in touch given that it has implications for both India and Sri Lanka,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters after Singh and Rajapaksa met on the summit sidelines.
Twice in the last two years, Tamil parties mounted pressure on the UPA government and India voted against Sri Lanka in Geneva, resulting in temporary cooling of ties.