This Article is From Sep 14, 2015

Efforts Underway to Resolve Teesta Isue with Bangladesh: Indian Envoy Pankaj Saran

Efforts Underway to Resolve Teesta Isue with Bangladesh: Indian Envoy Pankaj Saran

File Photo: PM Narendra Modi with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina (Press Trust of India)

Dhaka: India today said "behind the scene" efforts are underway to resolve the long-pending Teesta water sharing issue with Bangladesh similar to the settlement of the historic Land Boundary Agreement with the neighbouring country.

"I think it's better to work quietly behind the scene rather than advertise the progress," said Pankaj Saran, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

"Teesta deal will also happen soon like the settlement of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between our two countries," he added.

"I think this (water) is going to be next focus of bilateral relation after the Land Boundary Agreement," he said.

Mr Saran was speaking at a seminar organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) which saw the participation of foreign relations, security and financial analysts and experts on water issues.

The Teesta River is said to be the lifeline of Sikkim, flowing for almost the entire length of the state.

The river then forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal before joining the Brahmaputra as a tributary in Bangladesh.

Teesta water is also crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

The diplomat's comments on the Teesta came in reply to a question to know the developments of a 2015 Long term Framework Convention signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit in June which suggested the two countries were supposed to join hands for basin-wise management of common streams instead of mere water sharing.

The Indian envoy described the current bilateral ties to be in a transition as Bangladesh with a new Indian government taking over in the last year's elections requiring Dhaka to "deal with a new set of policymakers in New Delhi".

"But Bangladesh's desire to reach out new Indian leadership and India's 'neighbours first policy set the ground for bilateral ties in initial months" a fact which he said was backed by New Delhi's standing policy to treat Dhaka to be one of its most important world capitals for strategic reasons.

The Teesta deal was set to be inked during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh in September 2011 but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had also dropped out of the Prime Ministerial delegation.