AL, BNP jostle for Teesta flow credit

24 April 2014

The sudden spike in the water levels of the Teesta river has sent the two major political parties of Bangladesh - the Awami League and its fierce rival the BNP - jostling for credit.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Water Resources has claimed it is not for any movement of a political party, but the government's successful diplomatic efforts that led to the increase in the water flow.
Chairman of the parliamentary watchdog Ramesh Chandra Sen made the contention speaking to reporters after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday.
Water resources minister of the immediate past Awami League government, Sen said the panel suggested the government be more alert to maintain the water flow.
It also urged the government to make necessary arrangements for signing an agreement with India to ensure equitable share of waters of the trans-border river.
Amid the BNP's two-day-long road march towards the Teesta Barrage, the water flow marked sudden rise by several times exceeding 3,000 cusec at the Teesta Barrage Project (TBP) point at Dalia in Nilphamari from Tuesday noon. But it again declined by a half on Wednesday.
The BNP on Wednesday termed it a primary success of their programme.
Reacting to the BNP's claim, Sen said: "The rise in Teesta's water flow isn't a result of anyone's movement. It won't be right if you think that India released waters in the face of political pressure due to the BNP's long march."
"The water flow in the Teesta River has started increasing as a result of Bangladesh's successful diplomatic efforts with India. The flow will also continue in future," he said.
Bangladesh and India were set to ink a deal on the Teesta water share during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Dhaka visit in September 2011.
But the signing had to be cancelled following last-minute objections raised by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Sen said: "The prime minister (Sheikh Hasina) talked to the leaders in Kolkata and New Delhi since the water flow (in the Teesta) was very low this year. The water flow has started increasing because of her earnest efforts."
The Awami League MP differed with many BNP leaders who asked the government to raise the demand of fair share of trans-border river waters in the international forum.
"If we go for the international tribunal, the friendly relations with India may get sour since we're bordered by India."
"On the issue of Teesta water sharing and other issues, we want to ensure our fair share from India through cooperation."
"So, if we raise the issues in the international tribunal, then our close relations with India will be damaged," he argued.

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