“We are trying to get the deal done fast. But it will be extremely difficult to get it done during Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit,” said Upendra Prasad Singh, Indian water resource secretary
There is little chance of any breakthrough in Teesta water sharing deal during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming India visit in October.
“We are trying to get the deal done fast. But it will be extremely difficult to get it done during Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit,” said Upendra Prasad Singh, Indian water resource secretary.
“The date of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit is yet to be finalised. It is hard to tell if the deal will get done then,” he added.
At the secretary-level talks of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) between Bangladesh and India, 10 issues were discussed – six from Bangladesh and four from India.
After a long discussion in the state guesthouse Meghna, the secretaries from the two countries briefed the media in the evening. To ensure the best use of the Ganges water, they discussed a joint effort.
“Bangladesh and India never worked together on this issue earlier. So, the two countries never conducted any joint study on this before,” said Kabir Bin Anwar, secretary to the Water Resources Ministry of Bangladesh.
The delegations of the two countries discussed the possibilities of constructing the Ganges barrage jointly or finding an alternative way to ensure the best use the Ganges water that Bangladesh gets under the Ganges Water Treaty 1996.
“We discussed conducting a feasibility study and implementation of Ganga-Padma barrage in Bangladesh jointly for the best use of water resources,” said Kabir.
For this, a four-member technical committee has been formed – two members each from Bangladesh and India.
By September 2019, the committee will formulate a full-fledged committee and will fix the Terms of References. Then the new committee will conduct the feasibility study jointly.
Bangladesh and India share 54 transboundary rivers. The JRC was formed to resolve conflicts about sharing of waters of these transboundary rivers. So far the two countries have only one treaty on sharing the water of the Ganges signed in 1996.
The previous secretary-level meeting of JRC was held in January 2010.
“The big takeaway from today’s meeting is that talks have resumed after nine years,” said the Indian water resource secretary.
Water sharing and water management of other six rivers – Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharala, Dudhkumar – were also discussed in the meeting.
Both parties have agreed that the next JRC meeting will be at the ministerial level.
The last JRC ministerial level meeting – 37th – was held in New Delhi in March 2010.
The 38th meeting was scheduled to take place in Dhaka in 2011, but it did not happen.