Teesta:PM says he has asked officials to find 'viable' formula

Teesta:PM says he has asked officials to find 'viable' formula

Wrapping up his two-day stay here, Singh also sought to assuage Bangladesh's concerns on bilateral trade imbalance and announced quota-free access to Indian market for 46 Bangladeshi textile products for which he had unveiled duty-free entry facility just yesterday.

He responded to another persistent concern in Bangladesh over the proposed Tipaimukh irrigation project in Arunachal Pradesh, assuring Dhaka that India would not take steps that will adversely affect its eastern neighbour.

Singh said he was hopeful that during his visit to Dhaka "we would be able to come to an agreement on the sharing of the waters of the Teesta river. Both sides worked very hard to arrive at a solution that would be acceptable to all."

"Unfortunately, these efforts did not meet with success within the time available," the Prime Minister said addressing a gathering of intellectuals at Dhaka University. He, however, said he has asked the concerned officials to intensify their efforts "towards finding a viable formula which does not cause undue distress to all those in India or Bangladesh who are dependent on the flows of the river."

Pointing out that "water is a sensitive subject in both our countries," Singh said "but we have shown that, in a spirit of friendship and mutual accommodation, we can agree on cooperative arrangements based on the principles of equity, fair play and no harm to either party" and cited India's 1996 Ganges water-sharing accord with Bangladesh as "one example which has stood the test of time."

Choosing to cement bilateral ties through the trade route, the Prime Minister said 46 Bangladeshi textile products would be allowed in Indian market without any restriction on the quantity.

"Yesterday, the government of India issued a notification removing all 46 textile tariff lines of greatest sensitivity to Bangladesh from the negative list for Least Developed Countries under South Asian Free Trade Arrangement (SAFTA)... There will be no quota restrictions on these items," Singh said.

He said what was of greater long-term importance is increased Indian investment in Bangladesh, which will not only lead to greater economic activity but also increase Bangladeshi exports to India and other countries.

"We should work on both fronts not only to reduce the trade deficit but increase and even multiply total trade," he said. Singh said concern has been expressed from time to time on the Tipaimukh dam project in India but "I wish to make it clear that India will not take and I repeat India will not take steps that will adversely affect Bangladesh."

The Prime Minister said India and Bangladesh fought shoulder to shoulder during the struggle for liberation and now the two countries must join hands to meet the challenges of equitable social and economic development and fight poverty, hunger and disease.

"We must live in peace and harmony as good neighbours, just like our forefathers did. We must stand by each other in good times and in times of crisis as we have done in the past," he added.

Singh described Bangladesh as an important voice of the developing world which has much to say and contribute in the comity of nations and the affairs of the world and expressed India's support to Bangladesh's efforts "to play its due and commensurate role in regional and global affairs."

He said the destinies of South Asian countries are interlinked and "we must believe in the vision of a shared future of common prosperity and fulfillment."
The Prime Minister, however, acknowledged "difficulties and obstacles" in the way of greater regional cooperation but said "the people of our region have the imagination and maturity to find out own solutions to our own problems."

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