India, Bangladesh to sign 7 pacts today boosting diplomatic ties
On the second day of Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina's four-day India visit, both neighboring countries are expected to sign at least six-seven agreements boosting diplomatic ties. These would likely range from river water sharing, trade, and defense to connectivity. Hasina received a ceremonious welcome in Delhi on Monday. The pacts will reportedly be signed after her meeting with PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Rohingyas, cross-border river water sharing among key issues
At her reception by the Bangladesh High Commission on Monday, Hasina told journalists that she would raise two contentious issues during her talks with PM Modi: cross-border river water sharing and the Rohingya refugee crisis. Hasina is scheduled to meet PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday to discuss these issues along with allowing Bangladeshi TV channels to be aired on Indian cable networks, among others.
India could provide line of credit for river project: Hasina
Hasina also talked about a potential joint project for the dredging and rejuvenation of cross-border rivers. She said since Bangladesh is a lower riparian state, the waters of the cross-border rivers would inevitably flow into their side. She added dredging and desilting could improve the flow of water and prevent flooding, adding that India could provide a line of credit to facilitate the project.
'India can do a lot on Rohingya issue'
On Monday, Hasina also said India is a vast country and can "do a lot" to help Bangladesh cope with the Rohingya refugee crisis. Bangladesh has been pushing for India to use its diplomatic influence with Myanmar for the repatriation of Rohingyas—1.1 million of whom are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh and 40,000 in India, as per Human Rights Watch.
Hasina declines to comment on long-pending Teesta pact
One of the deals that could be signed on Tuesday is the sharing of waters from the Kushiyara River in Assam, which was finalized last month during a meeting of the bilateral Joint River Commission. When asked about the Teesta River water sharing agreement—pending since 2011 over differences between the Centre and the West Bengal government—Hasina declined to speak on it.
Nepal plans to transport goods to Bangladesh ports via India
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said Hasina raised issues of high importance during her meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. They included Nepal's plans of transporting goods to Bangladesh's ports through India's territory and a proposal for improved connectivity among Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal (BBIN) countries. Defense-related bilateral talks have progressed, too, including on portable and prefabricated bridges for increased mobility.
Bangladesh is buying 1,160 MW power from India
The power sector is also in special focus as Bangladesh is buying 1,160 megawatts of power from India, which is likely to rise in the coming days. Meanwhile, the India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline, being built to export diesel from Siliguri to Bangladesh's Parbatipur, is expected to be completed soon. Momen said Bangladesh could also consider buying fuel and gas from India on mutually agreed terms.