Under pressure to deliver the Teesta river water-sharing agreement with India, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged counterpart Manmohan Singh to sign the pact at the earliest 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,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin 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”.
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, even though they share 54 rivers. Three years ago, Mamata had refused to accompany the Prime Minister to Bangladesh where he had hoped to sign the deal. The government later said nothing would be done without consulting the West Bengal government.
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, said after Singh and Rajapaksa met on the summit sidelines.
Twice in the last two years, Tamil parties have mounted pressure on the UPA government, leading to India voting against Sri Lanka in Geneva, resulting in a temporary cooling of ties.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.