India expresses optimism on Teesta water deal with B'desh

Dhaka: India on Tuesday expressed optimism over the much-awaited Teesta water sharing deal with Bangladesh as it underlined that the two neighbours enjoyed "best ever" relationship and there was no need for "despair".

"If we can strike a deal on Ganga River, why not a deal on Teesta? I don't see any sense of despair on it," said Sanjay Bhattacharyya, the India's Acting High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

He underlined India's willingness to sign a deal on water sharing from the common Teesta River.

Speaking at the launch of a book on Indo-Bangla relations by journalist Haroon Habib, Bhatacharya said the two countries have been enjoying the "best ever" relationship.

Bhattacharyya said "very large" number of steps have been taken to improve the ties in last three years.

The envoy asked the people not to be "pessimist" and stressed the need to push the leadership of both the countries to come closer.

Bangladesh was expected to sign the water sharing deal with New Delhi during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Dhaka visit in September last year. India and Bangladesh signed a historic agreement on demarcation of land boundary and exchange of 162 adversely-held enclaves, but no deal was inked on sharing of Teesta and Feni river waters.

All technicalities of an agreement on Teesta river were settled but West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's disagreement had led to the cancellation of the deal.

An angry Dhaka refused to ink the proposed transit agreement with India.

However, Bhattacharyya said the biggest achievement in Indo-Bangla relationship was the "unity" of the top political leadership to work "together" to solve all major outstanding problems such as border demarcation, exchange of enclaves and adversely possessed lands and singing of land boundary agreement.

"What we could not achieve in 40 years has been done in two years," he claimed at the function also attended by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s foreign affairs advisor Professor Gowher Rizvi.

The envoy's comment came a day after Jatya Party chief and former president HM Ershad, a key ally of the ruling Awami League, criticized the government for not being able to "deal with India" on the Teesta river issue.

He alleged that the government advisers were serving "Indian interest".

"If we (Bangladesh) do not get the due share of the Teesta, we will not give them (India) the transit facility," he told a rally in southern Bangladesh.