Kaushik Pradhan, Asian Age Corespondent
Kolkata, 17 November 2011. The Teesta water-sharing issue would not strain cordial relations between West Bengal and Bangladesh. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced this while addressing a joint press conference with Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni at the state secretariat, the Writers’ Buildings, on Wednesday.
She also informed that the state government has formed a study group under the chairmanship of river expert Kalyan Rudra to find out the implications of sharing Teesta water.
India and Bangladesh were supposed to sign the Teesta water-sharing accord in September during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh, but the Union government had to back out from signing the agreement after Ms Banerjee raised objections to it.
“We will be happy if Bangladesh gets more water from Teesta. But the state had some objections regarding the way the agreement was framed because it would hamper the Teesta Barrage project and some thermal power plant projects,” Ms Banerjee informed.
She added, “An expert team will review the entire situation and would guide us on the way the agreement has to be made. Bangladesh is our friend nation and we are not against giving water to it. The two countries will resolve the matter through discussions and there will neither be a problem nor any controversy. But water has to be shared in such a formula so that North Bengal doesn’t face a water crisis, the projects are not hampered and Bangladesh’s interest is also kept.”
Ms Moni said since the matter of sharing Teesta waters was a bilateral issue, it has to be negotiated between the Bangladesh and Indian governments. “West Bengal’s concern regarding Teesta water is an internal affair of the state and the Union government and so I have nothing to comment on it. But the cordial relations between West Bengal and Bangladesh will remain and will be further strengthened,” Ms Moni said.
She also invited Ms Banerjee to visit Bangladesh for attending two programmes in December and March. The chief minister accepted the invitation and assured that she would visit the neighbouring country depending on her other engagements.
The Bangladesh foreign minister Moni also informed that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accepted the invitation to attend the Calcutta University’s convocation.
During the meeting, the chief minister also proposed the Bangladesh foreign minister to form a task force between the two countries on cultural industry.