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Formal Teesta deal to take time

Draft may be ready during Hasina's visit

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21st-Mar-2017       
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Staff Reporter :
India and Bangladesh may go for a draft document or paper on sharing water from river Teesta during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit next month.
The river, which originates in Sikkim, enters Bangladesh and joins the Brahmaputra before flowing into the Bay of Bengal, according to The Economic Times on Monday.
Negotiations between the two countries on sharing its waters have remained inconclusive.
Officials here hinted that a formal agreement may not be ready during Bangladesh PM Hasina's April 7-10 visit, but a draft paper could be agreed upon when she meets her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on April 8.
This could lead to a formal agreement at a later stage, ahead of general elections in Bangladesh in January 2019. Hasina's upcoming India visit has come under the spotlight with rising expectations that there will be forward movement on the pending Teesta Water-Sharing Issue.
Fuelling hopes of a final agreement is the BJP's landslide win in Uttar Pradesh, a verdict seen buttressing any bold move Modi may contemplate vis-à-vis India's neighbours.
However, support of the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is key to the implementation of any water-sharing deal on river Teesta, which flows through the state.
Mamata Banerjee has been opposing this deal saying it will rob the state of its share of water.   
While both governments are silent on the issue, there are indications that Banerjee might be invited to meet Hasina in New Delhi along with the Chief Ministers of four other states that border Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud recently said he was unable to tell about any timeframe on securing river Teesta's water sharing deal with neighbouring India.
He also declined to reply queries about possible development in the process during PM Sheikh Hasina's upcoming New Delhi visit.
Besides, he also declined to comment elaborately on the issue of proposed Teesta Barrage whether it would be on the agenda of talks during the premier's Delhi tour.
However, the Water Resource Minister said the central government in India is sincere and they are working on it.
"On the issue of Teesta two subsequent Indian Prime Ministers (Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi) said the draft of the proposed deal on Teesta would be turned into an agreement," he said.
"And they (two Indian Premiers) made this commitment not in private conversation but in public statements," Mahmud added.
The Minister acknowledged there are "internal political perspective of every country over such issues, and you are well aware of this (in the case of Teesta)".
 "But we definitely want the justified share of Teesta waters not only for our agriculture but also for saving the river… the flow drastically declined two years ago," he said.

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