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India,Bangla may sign Teesta pact

Sources said the PM has placed this issue on top priority.

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September,the government on Thursday indicated that it was all set to sign an agreement with the neighbouring country on sharing the Teesta and Feni waters.

“We expect an agreement on Teesta and Feni rivers,” Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters after a meeting with Mashiur Rahman,adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,here on Thursday.

Rahman,too,sounded optimistic. “…we share so many things in common and if we can work together,it brings benefits to both sides and not to do that is to deny the benefit that we can give to the people… the border should not determine whether the benefit should be available or not,” Rahman said. The issue has gathered urgency in the wake of Bangladesh PM urging India regarding the need for an early resolution on water sharing that will also pave the way for her country to take up projects downstream in Teesta.

Sources said the PM has placed this issue on top priority. In this context,National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon visited Kolkata recently to take West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee into confidence over the various options of the agreement. West Bengal’s concurrence is important in wake of the fact that the state government has undertaken irrigation projects using the Teesta waters. The government needs to protect the interests of Bengal while meeting the legitimate demands of Bangladesh.

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Highly placed government sources claimed that Mamata has indicated a forward looking approach and told the Centre that she was more focussed on an outcome than dragging the matter for long. The Teesta waters issue has been hanging fire for about two decades and both countries expect to resolve the issue at the earliest. Sources said the Centre has invited Mamata to accompany the PM on his visit to Bangaldesh to be present in case the agreement is sealed between the two countries.

Bansal is expected to visit Bangladesh ahead of the PM’s visit to finalise the details of the agreement.

First published on: 22-07-2011 at 01:05 IST
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