Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Sunday, September 23, 2018 05:38:33 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Ties of tension

How trans-boundary rivers are affecting our bilateral relations

By
19th-Jun-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Mohammad Amjad Hossain :
India has recently made an effort to further develop its friendly relations with Bangladesh amidst growing bilateral ties with China whom India considers a rival, both economically and militarily. That has been reflected during the four-day visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina to India in April at the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, making it the first such visit after the BJP came to power in the central government in Delhi in 2014.
During her visit to India, a series of 22 pacts plus 12 business deals were signed between the two countries which include nuclear and defense cooperation, apart from infrastructure development in railway, ports, airports and technical facilities. The pacts also covered a broad range of subjects like battling terror, security and cross-border infiltration. To cover all these projects, India accorded a credit line of $4.5 billion, apart from $500 million earmarked for buying defense equipment from India. The Indian Prime Minister, Bangladeshi Prime Minister and Chief Minister of West Bengal inaugurated a rail and bus service to Bangladesh from India. The visit of Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, takes place at a time when policy makers in India are increasingly worried about China's influence on Bangladesh. Both China and India are competitors in South Asia. Bangladesh has already achieved economic growth at 6% plus, but its high population density draws the attention of economic and military powers of China and India for the expanded market in Bangladesh.
During her visit, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina honored 46 years Indian soldiers who were killed by Pakistan's marauding army during the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971. This is something that should have been done long ago during the initial ruling period of Awami League in 1972; however, it is still a good gesture from Bangladesh. Regardless, the issue of sharing waters from the Teesta and Feni rivers remain on  tenterhooks.
Sharing of waters from trans-boundary rivers from an upper riparian country constitutes an international obligation to lower riparian countries. Bangladesh incidentally is a lower riparian country but India being the upper riparian state, controls waters of trans-boundary rivers. According to BBC, the Indian Irrigation Minister plans to transfer water from the Ganges and the Brahmaputra to drought prone areas in India. He commented, "The interlinking of the rivers is our prime agenda, and we have got the people's support, and I am determined to do it on the first track." If this project is carried out, it will be disastrous for Bangladesh. Meanwhile, India has already diverted waters from many international rivers upstream which has left an adverse impact on the ecology of Bangladesh. The change of water flows in the upper riparian areas in India affects the environment and the hydraulic character of rivers in Bangladesh.
The water issue is one of the significant bilateral problems between Bangladesh and India which has been around since the inception of Bangladesh. The construction and implementation of a barge on the Ganges River in Murshidabad have caused serious problems to the lower riparian river, the Padma which has almost turned into a dead river. The Brahmaputra on Bangladesh's side known as the Jamuna is almost dead as well, whereas the Brahmaputra in Guwahati in India was brimming with waters as I had observed during my short visit to Guwahati in Assam from Kolkata in August of 2009. India which claims to be a friend of Bangladesh should respect and honor a lower riparian country sharing waters from trans-boundary rivers. There are plenty of international treaties and agreements to share streams from trans-boundary rivers. Historically, an international agreement, dating back to 2500 BC, saw two Sumerian city-states of Lagash and Umma reach a deal ending water sharing disputes along the Tigris River which is 1,740 miles long at the North West bottleneck of Baghdad of present Iraq. According to the FAO, more than 3600 treaties relating to international water resources had been concluded since 805 AD. Of them, the recent agreement between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam regarding the formation of the Mekong River Commission in 1957 for cooperation with water resources is significant. The Indus River Commission between Pakistan and India sharing waters is another glaring example. A framework for the Nile River Basin was agreed in February of 1999 to fight poverty and develop the economy in the region by promoting equitable sharing of water resources from common rivers.
The 1997 United Nations Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Water Resources is one international instrument that significantly focuses on shared water resources. The convention established two key elements to guide the conduct of nations sharing water from shared rivers: equitable and reasonable use and the obligation not to cause significant harm to neighbors.
If BJP government goes ahead with implementing its pet project as indicated by the Water Resources Minister of India, it would have a devastating effect on Bangladesh. Therefore, Bangladesh government would be left with a fait accompli situation. During his visit to Bangladesh in June of 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi committed by saying, "Our rivers should nurture our relationship, not become a source of discord." After two years of the BJP in power, the water sharing from the Teesta and Feni rivers is hanging in the balance because of the objection by Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee. This time, too, the Indian Prime Minister asserted by saying, "I firmly believe my government and Bangladesh's government will find a solution of water sharing from Teesta." However, only rhetoric does not solve water sharing problems between the two neighboring countries. Therefore, it is high time that the government of Bangladesh should consider internationalizing the issue as they did in connection to resolving the long dispute of demarcation of maritime boundaries at the arbitration court.
It is understood the trade deficit with India is a huge problem. No mechanism is in hand to solve the trade deficit between the two countries, where India is reaping benefits from Bangladesh by setting up India-based companies in Dhaka as liaison offices to trade with RMG products to be sent to the United States and Europe. Indian companies are utilizing Bangladesh's most favored nation status getting lower tariffs. Shipments come from Bangladesh, but the money goes to India. According to statistics, import from  India stands at $5.45 billion, whereas exports to India from Bangladesh amounts to $689.62 million during 2015-2016. The imposition of anti-dumping duty by India on the products of jute goods, yarn and hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh has caused a further hindrance in reducing trade gap with India.
Leaders and policy makers in India agreed that Sheikh Hasina has gone the extra distance to improve relations with India but now is the time for reciprocity from Indian policy makers to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors.
The writer is a retired diplomat from Bangladesh. He writes from Virginia, USA.
- ICE Business Times, June 2017

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

CPJ reveals weakness of journalists by appealing to President


THE Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a letter to the Bangladesh President has expressed deep concern about the Digital Security Act 2018, which was passed by the Parliament on September 18, and urged him to return it to Parliament for a review afresh.   If this legislation was allowed to ...

International »

Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal


Reuters, New delhi :Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner.Indian political parties have been gunning for ...

International »

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Report


Reuters, Washington: The US official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump last year and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from the White House, the New York Times reported on Friday.Deputy Attorney ...

Football »

Tabarez renews with Uruguay until Qatar World Cup


AFP, Montevideo :Despite failing health the veteran coach Oscar Tabarez has signed a four-year contract extension to remain at the Uruguay helm until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the South American country's football federation said on Friday.Tabarez, who suffers from a nerve disorder that forces him ...

City »

People of the Shia community brought out a Tazia procession in the city on the occasion of Holy Ashura. The snap was taken from Azimpur area on Friday.


Entertainment »

Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla to reunite for a comedy The film will reunite Kapoor and Chawla 22 years after their last film 'Daraar'


Frequent collaborators Rishi Kapoor and Juhi Chawla will reunite for a family comedy produced by Sony Pictures International and MacGuffin Pictures, reported Variety.The untitled film will be co-written by Hitesh Bhatia and Supratik Sen (Parched, Kai Po Che!), and directed by Bhatia. The film will reunite Kapoor and Chawla 22 ...

Editorial »

Rohingya crisis: UN is helpless without active cooperation of int'l community


THE United Nations was established with a mission to stop brutality and promotion of human rights across the globe but at present is apparently helpless to stop the Myanmar military atrocity on Rohingya ethnic community. Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ...

Cricket »

India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup


AFP, Dubai :India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all ...

Football »

We aim to play SAFF U-16 Women's final: Choton


Bangladesh U-18 national women's football team head coach Golam Rabanni Choton said they aim to play the final of the SAFF U-18 Women's Championship which is scheduled to be held from September 28 to October 7 in Thimpu, Bhutan.He was speaking at a pre-departure press conference on Thursday at the ...

International »

US-North Korea relations making 'tremendous progress': Trump


President Donald Trump on Wednesday said US relations with North Korea are making "tremendous progress" from the days before his presidency when the two countries appeared close to "going to war."Trump said a recent letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un confirmed the positive track, which he said has ...

City »

Newly elected executive members of Bangladesh Photo Journalists Association paid a courtesy call on Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan at his ministry on Thursday.


Entertainment »

Not always necessary to do issue-based films: Yami Gautam


Actress Yami Gautam, who stars in Batti Gul Meter Chalu, says it is neither necessary nor possible for an actor to do issue-based films all the time. Yami was interacting with the media here on Wednesday at a promotional press conference of the film that releases on Friday. She was ...

Football »

Japanese MMA star Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at 41


Tributes flowed Wednesday for charismatic Japanese Mixed Martial Artist ( MMA) Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who died at age 41, three weeks after announcing a battle with cancer.Born to a family of wrestlers and martial artists, the wiry, tattoo-covered Yamamoto took on larger opponents in a wide range of MMA events, ...

Editorial »

Ecological danger for destroying forest by Rohingyas


A STUDY has revealed that 4,300 acres of hills and forests have been razed in Cox's Bazar to set up refugee camps and cooking fuel for Rohingyas who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Quoting the study, news media reported that about 3,000-4,000 acres of hill land at Teknaf and Ukhia ...

International »

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too


AP,  Pyongyang :The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he'd permanently dismantle ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news