Bangladesh-India set to ink key pact on sharing of river waters

Bangladesh and India are set to ink an interim agreement on sharing of common river-waters during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s visit later this year, as the two neighbours Monday "removed differences" at a crucial talks in the capital here.

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2011, 21:00 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh and India are set to
ink an interim agreement on sharing of common river-waters
during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s visit later this year,
as the two neighbours Monday "removed differences" at a crucial
talks in the capital here.

India`s Water Resources Secretary DV Singh led a
six-member delegation talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart
Sheikh Mohammad Wahiduzzaman here to hammer out an interim
agreement on sharing of waters of Teesta and Feni rivers
in dry season for the next 15 years.

"We expect an interim agreement on the sharing of the
two common rivers to be signed during the upcoming visit of
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh" later this year,
Wahiduzzaman said at a joint press briefing.

A joint statement issued after the first-day talks of
the two-day meeting of the two neighbours gave positive
signals on the agreement.

"The two sides removed differences and improved
understanding towards framework of an agreement," the
statement said.

The meeting discussed issues "pertaining to sharing
arrangements of dry season water flows of the Teesta and Feni
rivers" as mandated by the ministerial-level Joint
Rivers Commission in March last year and arrived at the
understanding today.

Wahiduzzaman said no further meeting at the
secretary-level would be required for more negotiation on the
Teesta and Feni issues.

However, he said Water Resources Ministers of the two
countries at a Indo-Bangla Joint River Commission (JRC)
meeting would need to endorse a draft ahead of signing of the
proposed 15-year agreement during the next Dhaka-New Delhi
summit in the Bangladeshi capital.

The two Secretaries did not provide any further
details on the talks.

The joint statement said the meeting discussed
formulation of a work plan on water sharing in several other
common rivers like Dharla, Dudhkumar, Manu, Khowai, Gumti and
Muhuri.

The last secretary-level talks were held in Dhaka in
March 2010 when both sides reached a consensus about dredging
the Ichhamati river and protecting the banks of common rivers.

Deltaic Bangladesh is criss-crossed by 230 major
rivers, 54 of them are common with India, including the
Brahmaputra that flows from China.

Bangladesh and India had inked a landmark treaty on
sharing of the Ganges water during Sheikh Hasina`s previous
1996-2001 tenure, removing a major irritant in bilateral ties.

PTI