Modi to propose joint river management deal with Bangladesh

Modi to propose joint river management deal with Bangladesh

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to argue for broad-based cooperation between India and Bangladesh to manage common river basins, though a resolution to the Teesta dispute appears unlikely during his weekend visit to Dhaka.

Modi’s visit will see India and Bangladesh exchanging the instrument of ratification of the 1974 land boundary agreement and the additional protocol added to it during his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s tour to the neighbouring country in September 2011.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Friday said that the conclusion of the land boundary agreement would be the “centrepiece” of Prime Minister’s “historic visit” to Bangladesh.

Modi’s meeting with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina will focus on regional connectivity and economic integration.

He will announce another Line of Credit to support development projects in Bangladesh, which, sources in New Delhi say, might be worth about $ Two Billion.

The credit line will be used primarily to support developing roadways, railways and seaport infrastructure in Bangladesh.

New Delhi and Dhaka are also expecting that the Modi-Hasina meeting would deliver significant outcomes, which may include agreements on bilateral trade, inland water protocol, coastal shipping, cooperation between Bangladesh Standards and Testing institution and Bureau of Indian Standards, curbing human trafficking and fake currency notes, and MoU for cooperation between the nations’ Coast Guards.

Mamata opposes deal

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee will accompany the prime minister on his visit to Bangladesh.

However, she is yet to drop her opposition to a deal on sharing of water of the common river Teesta.

In September 2011, Banerjee had pulled out of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s entourage to Dhaka to protest against New Delhi’s move to clinch a deal with Dhaka for sharing water of the Teesta river.

She believes that the proposed agreement would adversely hit irrigation projects in north Bengal.

Originating from Tso Lhamo Lake in Sikkim, The 315 kilometre-long River joins Brahmaputra after entering Bangladesh.

Teesta is known as a lifeline for Sikkim and several districts in West Bengal.

Sources said while Modi’s visit to Dhaka might not see a deal on Teesta, the Prime Minister would propose broad-based cooperation on joint river management.

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