Dhaka, New Delhi begin river water-sharing talks

DHAKA: Bangladesh and India on Monday began Secretary-level talks here on river water-sharing to lay the groundwork for the coming summit talks between their Prime Ministers.

Bangladesh Water Resources Secretary Sheikh M. Wahiduzzaman, who leads the home side, said the sharing of the waters of the Teesta and Feni and the construction of embankments were on the agenda of the two-day discussion. The Indian team is led by Water Resources Secretary U.N. Panjiar.

Even if the talks fail to arrive at a full-fledged agreement, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina could make decisions on signing a short-term Teesta deal, officials said.

Officials of the Ministries concerned said a full-fledged agreement on Teesta water sharing depended largely on the highest political levels. Dhaka is asking New Delhi to hold a ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC), but it is learnt that India has expressed its inability to hold such meeting in the last six years.

The talks will also include the sharing of water of six other common rivers — the Dharla, Monu, Muhuri, Dudhkumar, Khowai and Gomti. The dredging of the Isamoti may also come up for discussion.

Newly-appointed Indian High Commissioner Rajeet Mitter told journalists that Ms. Hasina’s visit to India, scheduled for January 10, would usher in new areas of cooperation.


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