Hasina, Khaleda ask India to sign Teesta deal soonDiplomatic Correspondent
Lack of majority of Congress delays deal: Pranab
The government and the opposition in Bangladesh in an almost identical tone asked India on Sunday to sign an agreement on the sharing of Teesta waters and holding a credible study soon on India’s plan to construct a controversial ‘dam’ on the River Barak.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, hoped that India would put in efforts to expedite the signing of an agreement for the sharing of waters of the River Teesta.
Hasina said this to India’s finance minister Pranab Mukherjee who called on her at Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Sunday.
She noted that the issue had assumed a greater political and emotive significance and any further delay could make it even more difficult for the two countries to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Hasina mentioned that apart from a select group of people who follow developments in Indian political circles, most people in Bangladesh do not understand the center-state relations or the dynamic of coalition politics.
‘It is easy for them to misunderstand the intent of the government of India over the delay in the conclusion of the Teesta agreement,’ Hasina told Pranab.
In this context, she said that the issue of Tipaimukh dam construction on the Barak and the inter-linking of rivers project had become the issue of great concern for the public in Bangladesh.
At a separate meeting with Mukherjee, the Bangladesh leader of the opposition in the parliament, Khaleda Zia, also stressed the need for signing the Teesta agreement.
In his exchanges with Hasina, Khaleda and newspaper editors, Mukherjee said that the lack of majority of the ruling Indian Congress in the parliament and lack of consensus among major political parties on the sharing of water of the Teesta were
delaying the signing of the agreement with Bangladesh.
The Indian minister told Khaleda that India was working to create a national consensus over Teesta waters and the deal would be inked after the consensus was formed, Khaleda’s adviser Shamsher Mubin Chowdhury told reporters.
In an interaction with a select group of editors, Mukherjee, a top policymaker of the Indian ruling Congress, blamed ‘ground realities’ such as the lack of majority of the ruling party (Indian Congress) for the failure of the Indian government to seal the Teesta water sharing deal, according to bdnews24.com.
‘In a democracy such as ours,’ he said ‘this process often becomes time consuming.’
‘There are certain issues that need to be resolved,’ Mukherjee said about the delay in the Teesta deal and termed the issue ‘sensitive.’
On September 5, 2011, India backtracked on the signing of an interim agreement on the sharing of waters of the River Teesta several hours before the arrival of India’s prime minister Manmohan Singh in Dhaka on an official visit. The two countries were set to sign the agreement the next day.
Mukherjeee was in Dhaka on a two-day official visit beginning Saturday.
As for river inter-linking, the Bangladesh foreign minister, Dipu Moni, quoted Mukherjee as saying that the river inter-linking (inside India) ‘would not be harmful for Bangladesh as the project would not include the rivers flowing from the Himalayas.’
Dipu Moni was talking with reporters after paying a courtesy call on the Indian minister at the Sonargaon Hotel.
The two ministers discussed achievements made so far after Manmohan Singh’s Bangladesh visit.
As for possibility of signing an agreement on the sharing of waters of the Teesta, Dipu Moni said that they (India) ‘are working. We are hopeful that the agreement would be signed soon.’
As for implementation of the 1974 land boundary agreement and the 2011 land boundary protocol, she said, quoting Mukherjee, that ‘they are working.’
Dipu Moni said that she had iterated the need for holding a joint study with the participation of experts from the two countries on the construction of the Tipaimukh dam on the Barak in India.
As for implementation of the projects funded under the $1 billion Indian line of credit, Dipu Moni said, ‘Most of the projects are selected. A small number of project are kept pending.’
As for ending killing of Bangladeshis by India’s Border Security Force, she said, ‘The two sides are working together on zero killing along the border.’
Mahbubul Alam of the Independent, Anwar Hossain Manju of Dainik Ittefaq, Golam Sarwar of Dainik Samakal, AHM Moazzem Hossain of the Financial Express, Matiur Rahman Chowdhury of Dainik Manabzamin, Toufique Imrose Khalidi of bdnews24.com, Shah Husain Imam of the Daily Star, MD Jamilur Rahman of the Daily Sun, Shyamal Dutta of Dainik Bhorer Kagoj, Shykh Siraj of Channel i, Munni Saha of ATN News and ZI Mamun of ATN Bangla attended the programme.
The Indian minister arrived in Dhaka mainly to attend the concluding ceremony of the 150th anniversary of the birth of poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Mukherjee left Dhaka for New Delhi on Sunday afternoon concluding his nearly 20-hour visit.
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