Indo-Bangla JRC meet tomorrow to discuss Teesta water-sharing
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 20:43
  
New Delhi/Dhaka: Teesta water sharing and review of the Ganga treaty are some of the issues expected to come up when India-Bangladesh Joint River Commission (JRC) meets here tomorrow after a gap of five years during which the two sides will also try to iron out differences on other water-related issues.

The Indian side will be led by Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal while Bangladeshi delegation will be headed by Ramesh Chandra Sen in the two-day deliberations of the ministerial-level Commission. The Commission had last met in 2005.

"The focus of the meeting would on Teesta water sharing. At present, Bangladesh receives almost all the water as it is not being used by India but after the on-going construction of a barrage on the river is completed, some water will be utilised by us as well," Water Resources Secretary U N Panjiyar told agency.

Other issues, to be taken up, may include review of the 1996 Ganga Treaty and information sharing of the flood forecast data, he said.

A 16-member Bangladesh delegation led by Sen arrived here earlier in the day to attend the JRC meeting.

Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary Sheikh Mohammad Wahid-Uz Zaman has said his country expected to reach an understanding at least for an interim deal ensuring equal shares of Teesta waters this time while the two countries would be able to resolve water sharing of all the common rivers one by one.

However, India has ruled out any such interim arrangement with officials maintaining that "water is a state subject. We want the state government to decide on the issue first."

Sources in the Water Resources Ministry said while Bangladesh wants to have water sharing on 50-50 basis available at Gazoldoba -- the only release point of Teesta river water to Bangladesh-- India is yet to take a final call on the issue as much will depend on West Bengal government.

The two sides will also try to thrash out differences on the system to be adopted to decide on the actual availability of water in the river.

"There are differences on the modalities to find out the actual availability on a particular date. We have to have convergence of views," the officials said.

The meeting comes following the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in January this year during which the two countries had agreed on concluding the Teesta river sharing talks at the earliest.

"Recognising the sufferings of the people of both sides in the face of scarcity of lean season flows of the Teesta River, the Prime Ministers expressed that the discussions on the sharing of the Teesta waters between India and Bangladesh should be concluded expeditiously.

"The two Prime Ministers directed their respective Water Resources Ministers to convene the Ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission in the first quarter of 2010," a joint statement issued during the visit had said.

Besides Teesta, the 37th JRC meeting was also expected to discuss the sharing of the waters of Feni, Manu, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharala and Dudhkumar rivers.

The Commission is the highest forum for resolution of disputes on sharing waters of common rivers between the two countries. The forum was constituted in 1972 with its charter calling for holding at least two meetings every year.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 20:43


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