Bangladesh Presses India to Resolve Teesta Treaty Issue
28 Mar 2012 - 08:10 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
dhaka, Bangladesh — Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week urged India to acclerate the process of reaching a deal on sharing water from the transboundary Teesta River.
The water-sharing deal hit a snag when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh backed out of signing a treaty at the last minute during his visit to Dhaka last September.
Hasina’s appeal comes as her rival, former Prime Minister and current opposition leader Khaleda Zia, is insisting that bilateral trade issues between India and Bangladesh be linked to signing the treaty.
Khaleda has called for halting all trade and transactions with India and denying India permission to use transit corridors through Bangladesh if New Delhi does not agree to allow Bangladesh its rightful share of Teesta water.
”We want friendship with India. But it should be on a give and take basis. If they (India) do not give us anything, we will not give back anything to them,” the opposition leader said.
The Teesta issue has the potential to derail the otherwise cordial relations the two countries have managed to achieve in recent years.
Indian officials have assured Bangladesh that they are working to resolve the issue.
The new Indian envoy to Bangladesh, Pankaj Saran, said: “The process of signing the pending Teesta Water Treaty is under way and it will be signed soon on priority basis.”
But despite these assurances, getting a treaty signed may take some more time.
Singh told Hasina in November at the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Maldives that the Teesta water-sharing accord would require more time to reach consensus and address the interests of all concerned parties, including India’s West Bengal state.
India and Bangladesh share waters of 54 rivers, but so far have a formal water-sharing treaty only for the Ganges.
Dhaka has been seeking a speedy resolution to the contentious Teesta River issue, with Bangledeshi officials taking the opportunity at bilateral and multilateral meetings to emphasize the “huge” costs Bangladesh is paying because of the absence of a signed agreement.