New Delhi, 10 February 2012. The treaty was put on hold after West Bengal CM protested against its provisions.
India and Bangladesh will take the first step towards revisiting the proposed Teesta river treaty when officials exchange river flow data at a technical meeting of the inter-governmental Joint Rivers Commission in Kolkata on Friday.
India had put the treaty on hold after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, unhappy over the treaty’s provisions, pulled out of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delegation to Dhaka last year.
Official sources here said the West Bengal government has been taken on board this time, which Ms. Banerjee’s aides had alleged was not the case when the Teesta Treaty was finalised. “The involvement of the West Bengal government is of paramount concern as far as the Government of India is concerned,” said the sources. In case of Teesta, both sides are also thinking of involving Sikkim, the uppermost riparian State.
“Essentially we are going ahead with different elements of reaching an agreement. The issue is not dormant,” added the sources.
While agreeing to put off the signing of the Teesta Treaty, Dhaka had asked New Delhi to ensure that the agreement would be examined after some time. An agreement is expected to pave the way for the signing of a similar agreement on the Feni river and five minor ones — Dudh Kumar, Manu, Khowai, Gomti and Muhuri.
The sources said West Bengal or any of the other State through which over 50 rivers flow into Bangladesh will be kept in the loop while signing water sharing agreements. The States were briefed and their advice taken during negotiations on a protocol on land boundary that was signed during Dr. Singh’s September 2011 visit to Dhaka.
In fact, senior officials from the Foreign Office here had travelled twice to Kolkata to brief the State government during negotiations on the demarcation of the entire land boundary and the status of enclaves and adversely possessed areas.
The Centre had also obtained the written consent of States and kept its negotiating brief within the parameters of their advice, especially from the West Bengal government, on taking “pragmatic steps”, which meant retaining the status quo, on enclaves and exclaves. “We had gone along with the West Bengal government’s desire to use Sui River for demarcation of the South Berubari sector,” said the sources.