Teesta Waters Treaty Unlikely to Be Inked During Hasina’s Visit

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s position is that the treaty would render north Bengal dry.

Though a host of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's four-day visit to India from 7 April, a key agreement on the sharing of Teesta waters, about which there has been wide speculation, is unlikely to be inked.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a bilateral summit with Sheikh Hasina on Saturday, but no forward movement is expected on the Teesta waters agreement despite public opinion in Bangladesh on the matter.

Both India and Bangladesh, as good neighbours, have moved forward on other sectors like power, investment and security, but the Teesta waters issue remains a vexed problem.

Though an agreement on sharing of the Teesta waters was drafted ahead of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh, it was withdrawn at the last moment when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee protested against the accord.

Banerjee's position is that the treaty would render north Bengal dry and affect Indian farmers. She is of the view that with Bangladesh having its largest irrigation project, the Teesta Barrage, running, the country does not deserve more water.

Though Banerjee is scheduled to join a banquet dinner hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee in the honour of Sheikh Hasina, she will not attend the bilateral summit to be held at Hyderabad House.

The Teesta waters issue apart, the Bangladesh side is also very keen about a Ganga Barrage, and talks in this regard are expected during the summit.

Also Read: To Do or Not to Do, Modi’s Dilemma on Manmohan’s Teesta Formula

Among the 25 to 30 agreements that are expected to be signed during the visit, there will be two memorandums of understanding on defence.

During Sheikh Hasina's visit, a bus service and a train service between Kolkata and Khulna will be launched, in addition to a rail link from Radhikapur in north Bengal.

There has been a concern in India regarding security of minority communities in Bangladesh following a rise in Islamist fervour, but Dhaka has already conveyed to New Delhi that it was concerned and the phenomenon was a disgrace.