India

Sheikh Hasina's India visit: Expectations, key issues and more

07 Apr 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar
Teesta water sharing likely to take centre stage

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Friday, to discuss important matters concerning India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. According to reports, both parties are set to enter into at least 40 agreements.

While India hopes for increased defence cooperation, a top priority for the Bangladeshi side would be to rework the Teesta water-sharing agreement.

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In context: Teesta water sharing likely to take centre stage

07 Apr 2017Sheikh Hasina's India visit: Expectations, key issues and more

BackgroundWater sharing as a factor in Indo-Bangladesh relations

India's clout in the region as a big power renders smaller neighbours including Bangladesh dependent on India for various security and economic reasons. At the same time, the nature of South Asian geopolitics make India and Bangladesh indispensable partners to each other.

Water sharing has been a flashpoint in the relationship, arising from divergent opinions of domestic actors on both sides, including political parties.

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Water stressed hill regions would become water scarce

An ad-hoc water sharing agreement in 1983 gave 39% of Teesta water flow to India and 36% to Bangladesh. The proposed 2011 deal envisioned equal sharing of water, leading Mamata Banerjee to claim that Northern parts of WB would suffer from water scarcity in summer.
River water agreements

AboutRiver water agreements

The Joint River Commission (1972) was instituted under Indira Gandhi as PM as an early effort at water sharing. The 1996 Ganges Treaty further arrived at an arrangement only for Ganges.

Riparian tensions reached a high in 2011 when the antics of Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal CM, Mamata Banerjee, forced a proposed agreement on Teesta water sharing, to fall through.

AnalysisAmicable Teesta resolution could lead to agreements on other rivers

Sheikh Hasina has been a strong ally of India, particularly compared to highly critical opposition BNP, and having her retain power in 2019 would potentially be better for New Delhi.

Water scarcity is a major concern, but reaching an agreement on Teesta would be a win for both Hasina and Modi, paving way for similar agreements on 53 other rivers flowing between both states.

08 Apr 2017PM Modi and Sheikh Hasina sign multiple pacts

After bilateral talks, PM Modi and Sheikh Hasina signed 22 pacts for cooperation including a civil nuclear agreement, two memorandums of understanding on defence cooperation, and new rail and bus services between India and Bangladesh.

India extended $4.5 billion in credit to Bangladesh for project implementation.

PM Modi said he was hopeful for an "early and acceptable solution" to the Teesta water sharing issue.

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09 Apr 2017Take Torsa water, leave Teesta: Mamata to Bangladesh

As the talks between PM Modi and Bangladesh PM Hasina took place in Hyderabad House, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee continued to stress on the need to look at other proposals of settlement.

She said there was too little water in river Teesta and the "problem is water, not Teesta."

She said river Torsa could be allowed to flow unhindered to Bangladesh.

11 Apr 2017Teesta deal: B'desh PM rejects Mamata Banerjee's proposal

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina rejected West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee's proposal of leaving the Teesta and sharing other rives instead.

Banerjee also offered electricity, Hasina said, but PM Narendra Modi had "reiterated…strong resolve to conclude the water sharing treaty".

Despite attempts at negotiations, Hasina has maintained her demand for a deal on Teesta; India faces strong pressure to agree.