BNP wants Teesta water sharing agreement during Hasina's India visit

Dhaka [Bangladesh], Apr. 7 (ANI): The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) wants the Teesta water sharing agreement to be signed between New Delhi and Dhaka during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ongoing four-day visit to India.

Dhaka Tribune quoted BNP spokesperson Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir as saying that they would not accept any treaty or agreement with India except for the long-pending Teesta water sharing deal.

He said the Teesta water sharing issue is at present the country's main problem, adding the BNP has already clarified its stance about the Prime Minister's India visit.

The BNP had earlier said that they were not in favour of signing a deal or agreement on defence cooperation during the visit.

India is likely to offer USD 500 million Line of Credit to Bangladesh for defence exports from the country during Hasina's visit.

Fakhrul said the people of Bangladesh will not accept a defence deal or agreement as the two countries have many unresolved issues including border killings and trade gap which cannot be left aside.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had during his visit to Bangladesh in 2015 expressed confidence of finding a "fair solution" to the long-pending Teesta and Feni river water sharing issue.

The waters of the Teesta river is crucial for Bangladesh, especially during the lean period between December and March, when the water flow temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

The Teesta River originates from the Pahunri Glacier and flows southwards through gorges and rapids in the Sikkim Himalayas. The river flows through Sikkim, West Bengal and Bangladesh where after coursing through about 45km of irrigable land, it merges with the Brahmaputra River.

In 1983, an ad-hoc water sharing agreement was reached between India and Bangladesh, whereby both countries were allocated 39 percent and 36 percent of the water flow respectively.

However, the deal fell through when the then newly elected Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, refused to approve the treaty, fearing that the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian would cause problems in the northern region of state, especially during drier months. (ANI)