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Mamata Objects to India Sharing Teesta Water with Bangladesh

Mamata Objects to India Sharing Teesta Water with Bangladesh

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NEW DELHI, June 24: The West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has raised objections to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreeing with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on sharing of Teesta river water without involving the concerned state.

Ms Banerjee has written to Mr Modi turning down the Centre’s proposal for sharing of Teesta water, she wrote, “Such unilateral deliberations and discussions without consultation and the opinion of the state government is neither acceptable nor desirable.”

The discussion on sharing of Ganga and Teesta waters took place over the weekend, when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Delhi — days after she came to attend the oath ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his historic third term.

“I came to understand that the Government of India is in the process of renewing the India-Bangladesh Farakka Treaty (1996) which is to expire in 2026. It is a treaty which delineates of sharing of water between. Bangladesh and India and as you are aware it, has huge implications for the people of West Bengal,” Mamata Banerjee wrote. The people of Bengal, she added, would be the “worst sufferers” of such treaties.

“The state of West Bengal has cooperated with Bangladesh on several issues in the past,” Ms Banerjee added, pointing to the exchange of India-Bangladesh enclaves, Indo-Bangladesh Railway Line and bus services. “However, water is very precious and is the lifeline of the people. We cannot compromise on such a sensitive issue which has severe and adverse implication on the people,” she added.

Citing the proposed sharing the waters of Teesta, a river in north Bengal, she said the health of Teesta on the Indian side has “suffered” much already due to the construction of several hydropower projects in Sikkim and deforestation in the river’s upper catchment area, and now there was not enough water to share.

“It seems that in the meeting, Government of India has proposed a bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh for restoration of Teesta in Bangladesh. I am surprised by the fact that no concrete steps have been taken by the ministry of Jal Shakti to restore the river in its original form and health on the India side,” she wrote.

“Due to the reasons stated above, water flow in Teesta has gone down over the years and it is estimated that if any water is shared with Bangladesh, lakhs of people in north Bengal will get severely impacted… therefore it is not feasible to share Teesta water with Bangladesh,” she added.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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