India and Bangladesh signed 22 pacts in various key sectors on Saturday after Sheikh Hasina and Narendra Modi held extensive discussions to strengthen bilateral partnership between both countries. The 22 pacts were signed on a wide range of bilateral relations including energy, defence cooperation and infrastructure. However, the contentious and much-delayed Teesta water-sharing issue remained unresolved.
“I firmly believe that it is only my government and your excellency, Sheikh Hasina, your government that can and will find an early solution to Teesta water sharing,” PM Modi said at the press briefing. The statement came in the presence of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who has some reservations on the issue regarding water for the farmers of the state. The deal was set to be announced during former PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in 2011 but Banerjee raised objections then. The river water is crucial for the farmers of Bangladesh especially during the winter months.
India also announced a $4.5 billion credit line to Bangladesh for projects in priority sector and an additional $500 million for defence procurement.
The two leaders jointly inaugurated, via video conference, a bus service that will run between Kolkata, Khulna and Dhaka, a new passenger train service from Khulna to Kolkata through Petrapole from the Indian side and Benapole from the Bangladesh side and a new rail link between Radhikapur and Birol for running goods trains. India will also finance diesel oil pipeline from Numaligarh-Parbatipur wherein Indian companies will enter into a long-term agreement for supply of high-speed diesel.
In his statement to the media, PM Modi thanked PM Hasina for honouring the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the Bangladeshi Liberation War. “Your decision to honour Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the liberation war of 1971 has deeply touched the people of India,” he said.
In return, Sheikh Hasina also thanked the Indian administration for renaming an important road in New Delhi after ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh. She called for cooperation in the South Asian region and talked about better border connectivity between India and Bangladesh.
“Regional cooperation is very, very important for development in south Asia,” PM Hasina said. “We both want to make our borders free from criminal activity… We decided to take our bilateral relations to new high. PM Modi and I agree greater connectivity is important for the region,” she added.