Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed is on a momentous four-day visit to India that started Friday. The high-profile visit is expected to give a boost to bilateral ties between India and Bangladesh and will span everything from economic to security ties over the long term, according to FirstPost. Sheikh Hasina’s arrival on her first state visit to Delhi in seven years this weekend was expected to lead to a solution to the row over sharing of Teesta river waters. India and Bangladesh share 54 common streams with the Teesta being a major one and the water sharing dispute between the two neighbours is not something new. Here’s all you need to know about Teesta river dipute:
• The Teesta River is a 309 km long river flowing through Sikkim. It carves a way for itself through the verdant Himalayas in temperate and tropical river valleys and forms the border between Sikkim and West Bengal. It flows through the cities of Rangpo, Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong and joins the Jamuna (Brahmaputra) in Bangladesh.
• The flow of the river is crucial for Bangladesh from December to March for that they require 50 percent of the river’s water supply. While India claims a share of 55 percent.
• The dispute would take back to the time when Independent India was formed which reduced most of it’s northern rivers into ‘shared water bodies.’
• The water is released from Teesta and Farakka barrages to Bangladesh sacrificing West Bengal’s interest.
• The Teesta water-sharing agreement has been in talks since 2009 when the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government returned to power.
• A Joint River Commission was setup to resolve all outstanding water sharing disputes between the two countries. However, no pragmatic and long-term solution could come out and Teesta remained a problematic issue.
• Till date, the two countaries could reach consensus on only one comprehensive river pact.
• Former PM Manmohan Singh during his tenure, was due to sign a pact with his Bangladeshi counterpart regarding access and use of the Teesta River, but Mamata Banerjee, who was newly elected as West Bengal CM at the time, had declined to endorse the deal fearing the loss of higher volume of water to the lower riparian state that would cause scarcity of water in her state, especially during drier months.
• On her part, Hasina criticised Banarjee for her “unfortunate” stance against the water sharing deal.