India on Sunday said that it could resolve the longstanding Teesta river water sharing issue with Bangladesh by September when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is set to visit the country.
“I do sincerely hope, in the next few months we will be able to resolve it,” external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told reporters at end of his two-day Bangladesh tour for the second Joint Consultative Commission meeting with his counterpart Dipu Moni.
Khurshid said he expected India could resolve the issue of water sharing in common Teesta River with Bangladesh by September when Bangladesh Hasina is set to visit India.
Khurshid said a process was underway to resolve quickly the pending issue, engaging West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banarjee, who had opposed the inking of the deal fearing it will lead to water shortage in her state.
Earlier, Hasina had hoped that India would take a “liberal view” to resolve the Teesta river water sharing issue.
“We hope India will take a liberal view to resolve the problem” and initiate measures to sign the agreement, Hasina said, when Khurshid called on her.
Khurshid reiterated that the upcoming budget session of the Indian parliament was expected to ratify an additional protocol for the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement (LBA), amending the constitution to remove an irritant in bilateral ties.
“One major milestone will be achieved when it would be ratified,” Khurshid said, as his visit came three days after the Indian cabinet approved draft of the LBA for parliamentary ratification through constitutional amendment.
The bill will facilitate the implementation of the LBA signed in 1974 while its protocol was inked in 2011.
In a major step forward to resolve the land boundary issue, India and Bangladesh yesterday exchanged maps of demarcated stretches.
The symbolic exchange of strip maps, carried out in accordance with the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) of 1974, pertain to adverse possessions and undemarcated stretches.
The crucial land boundary issue involves exchange of land in 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladeshi enclaves to India.
Asked if the existing bilateral security cooperation against the use of Bangladesh territories by Indian separatists could be affected in case of change of governments in the countries as the both await general elections next year, Khurshid answered in the negative.
“I am sure of the (continued) cooperation by Bangladesh that our security will not be compromised,” he said.
Khurshid also met main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia, reviewing progress of bilateral ties and discussing other issues of common interest.
He said despite ups and downs or anxieties and excitements in Bangladesh-India relations, the ties between the two neighbours were actually ties of “two peoples” and not of “governments”.
Asked about the New Delhi-Dhaka and New Delhi-Beijing understandings on issues of intervening upstream waters for projects like dams, Khurshid said, “there is no reason for concerns” in either of the cases.
He reassured Bangladesh of not taking any project in the upstream Indian region that could affect its lower riparian neighbour, as a joint study was already underway on Tipaimukh Project.
Khurshid also remarked that China too did not undertake any project ignoring downstream India.
The Joint Consultative Commission (JCC) meeting held yesterday ended with the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), one on the construction of Akhaura- Agartala rail link and another on the setting up of a think tank named Bangladesh-India Foundation.
Meanwhile, a joint statement issued a day after the JCC meeting said the two ministers reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction at the significant forward movement in implementation of the decisions taken by the two sides.
“This (meeting) has widened the scope of bilateral cooperation and relations have become truly multifaceted, encompassing a wide range of areas,” the statement said.