Deep inside in its heart India must know unilateral withdrawal of water from an international river goes against international law
The good thing is India has never said it is opposed to striking a deal with Bangladesh on Teesta water share.
Deep inside in its heart India must know unilateral withdrawal of water from an international river goes against international law.
During Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's latest visit to the neighboring country, New Delhi reiterated its pledge to sign the agreement as her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi said "in soonest possible".
We have been showered with such pledges for the last 10 years.
When Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited India in 2010, she and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in a joint statement said that the discussion on sharing of Teesta waters between the two countries should be concluded expeditiously.
A year later Manmohan Singh flew to Dhaka raising high expectations on signing the deal on Teesta water share. But all of a sudden, New Delhi held back from striking the deal.
In the joint statement both the leaders assured us that there has been progress on water sharing deal on a fair and equitable basis. They directed the concerned officials to work towards concluding the agreement "at the earliest."
The pledge to conclude the agreement 'at the earliest' did not work.
Three years down the line, India got Modi as its new premier. Modi flew to Dhaka in 2015 with the same promise.
Hasina requested Modi for immediate conclusion of the agreement on sharing of the Water of Teesta as agreed upon by both the governments in January 2011. In response, Modi conveyed that deliberations are underway involving all stakeholders with regard to conclusion of the agreement "as soon as possible."
Time flew with the pledge to strike the deal "as soon as possible" remaining on paper.
After two years, Hasina flew to India in 2017 and raised the issue again.
In the joint statement both leaders used the same words they used in the 2015 joint statement on sharing of Teesta waters.
Two years down the line while Hasina is visiting India, Modi now assured us of signing the Teesta deal 'in soonest possible."
These mere pledges made by New Delhi over the years could not change the reality. The part of Teesta River that flows through Bangladesh dries up in the dry season for withdrawal of water by India from the upstream, causing irrigation problems for farmers in Bangladesh. The ecosystem of the river is now in peril due to lack of water flow.
During Hasina's latest visit to New Delhi, Dhaka delivered on its pledge to allow India to withdraw 1.82 cusecs of water from Bangladesh's Feni river. The deal was signed as agreed upon by the two countries in 2001 during Manmohan's visit to Dhaka. But there is yet to be any progress on the much-awaited Teesta treaty.
It's now New Delhi's turn to deliver on its pledge. Modi informed our prime minister that he would visit Dhaka soon.
Will this break the deadlock over the Teesta water share deal or will it be a reiteration of the same pledge?
Whenever the top leaders of both countries hold summit, they portray a rosy picture of the relationship existing between us.
But, a friendly relation should always be reciprocal.