Teesta water-sharing: India, Bangladesh exchange draft accords

Teesta water-sharing: India, Bangladesh exchange draft accords

Wrapping up the two-day ministerial-level meeting of the Joint River Commission last night, India presented a draft ''Statement of Principles'' of sharing of Teesta water while Bangladesh submitted a draft of an interim agreement on sharing of the river water
during the dry season.

The Water Resource Secretaries of the two countries were asked to examine the drafts presented by both sides "towards an expeditious conclusion of an interim agreement on Teesta", an official statement said, adding "this is a significant movement forward on this issue".

Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar, who held nearly four hours of talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Ramesh Chandra Sen, told reporters that the two sides exchanged the draft agreements and have mandated the Water Resources Secretaries to "take up the issue from here".

The next JRC meeting will be held at the earliest and Water Resources Secretaries will decide on that, he said.

Sen described the exchange of draft accords as a "step forward" but neither of the two ministers disclosed the percentage of water-sharing Bangladesh has mentioned in its draft interim agreement or how much India has suggested in its document.

Sen said it was a step forward because "we have decided how to go about cooperating on the issue" and both Secretaries will meet in the coming days so that the matter is resolved expeditiously.

Seeking to address Bangladesh's major concerns over India's river inter-linking project and Tipaimukh dam project, India said it will neither take any step that would adversely impact Bangladesh nor take any unilateral decisions on its proposed river inter-linking that might affect Bangladesh side".

The official statement said the Bangladesh side "appreciated India's reassurance" on Tipaimukh project.

Bangladesh agreed to India withdrawing 1.82 cusec of water from Feni river for drinking water supply schemes, the statement said.

The JRC discussions were comprehensive in nature and included issues relating to water sharing of Teesta and other common rivers, drinking water supply and minor lift irrigation schemes on rivers Feni and Muhuri and implementation of 1996 Ganga Water Sharing Treaty, the statement said.

The talks also covered bank protection and embankment repair, cooperation in flood forecasting and warning arrangements, flood management measures, including dredging of Ichhamati river, Tipaimukh dam project and river inter-linking project in India, it added.

As a special gesture, India agreed to provide flood data to Bangladesh to enhance the lead time to the latter to more than 57 hours for advance warning of floods. Bangladesh thanked India for this gesture, the statement said.

Both sides expressed satisfaction at the bank protection and embankments repair works being undertaken by mutual agreement on several sites in both India and Bangladesh and the two sides finalized 22 new sites in Bangladesh and 12 new Indian sites for this.
They also agreed satisfaction at the ongoing dredging of Ichhamati river.

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